Improved economy puts red light on new Wickham Road traffic signal


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Eagle's Landing Homeowners Association president Charlotte Lux, vice president Skip Gould, treasurer John Wicklund and secretary Sue Carver informed concerned residents at an Oct. 13 meeting of the delay in traffic light construction at the community's North Wickham Road entrance.

photo by Linda Wiggins

Residents of Eagle's Landing and Forest Lake in Suntree may have to wait longer for the installation of a traffic light at the entrance to their subdivisions at N. Wickham Road, near Advent Lutheran Church on the north side of Wickham and the Publix shopping plaza to the southwest. 

A request by area residents resulted in Brevard County commission approval of the light in July 2014, and design approval in March 2015. Bids were due by Sept. 23, but neither of two submissions were accepted by the Brevard County traffic planning department. 

“This is maddening when you consider there have been two dozen crashes resulting in at least four deaths just in the past few years,” said Charlotte Lux, president of the Eagle's Landing Homeowners Association, a sub-association of the Suntree Master Homeowners Association. “This light should have been put in years ago.” 

One bid was not compliant with requirements and the other was more than double the projected costs. 

“It was bid but the amount of the bid was far above the engineer's estimate and the budget for the project,” director of Brevard County Brevard County Public Works John Denninghoff said. The cost for the light was estimated by county engineering at $550,000 in August. 

“We are considering our options. Needless to say, we have had a few other priorities in recent days,” he added, referring to repairs to traffic infrastructure resulting from Hurricane Matthew in early October. 

One typical post-hurricane repair to traffic infrastructure won't be a factor in the new intersection: a downed light that blocks traffic and poses an electrocution hazard. 

There will be no suspended light box at the new intersection, but rather signal light panels will be fixed to long mast-arms over the road that angle out from a pole installed in the ground. Similar new lights are being installed along North Wickham Road in Viera at the intersection of Interstate 95 and along Lake Andrew Drive and Stadium Parkway. 

Should a bid have been accepted, the contractor would have had 245 days to complete the project, with a completion date of July 2017. 

The reason for the length of the construction time and the expense is twofold, according to Pat Woodard, community relations director for Brevard Country District 4 Commissioner Curt Smith. 

“These hurricane-proof arms are in high demand and there are only two companies that make them,” Woodard said. The intersection will require four arms, one over Forest Lake Drive, one over Golden Eagle Court, and one each over the west- and east-bound lanes of Wickham. 

The other hurdle for this intersection is this project requires extensive utility coordination to ensure there are no conflicts with the proposed mast-arm locations, Woodard added. 

The delays due to design requirements may have resulted in the reason for the latest delay: an improved economy, Public Works Traffic Operations program manager Corrina Gumm said. 

“Of the two bids received, one was not FDOT pre-qualified, which is required by Brevard County. The other bid was exceedingly high compared to the allocated budget and the engineer’s cost estimate (more than double). Unfortunately, the market conditions have changed significantly in the last year, which has resulted in the outrageous bid received and limited contractors willing to bid on it,” Gumm added. “I realize this is a high priority item. It is our intent to rebid this project as soon as possible.”

For more information, contact Public Works/Finance at 321-617-7202