AZTEC — The city's wish to create a walk from historic downtown Aztec across the Animas River to the Aztec Ruins National Monument will have to wait after a three-hour discussion of the cost resulted in postponement of the matter Monday night.

It was a classic case of sticker shock.

Mayor Sally Burbridge was wide-eyed as she scanned the pricing proposal for designing the trail project.

"I'm not comfortable with approval tonight," Burbridge said, "as much as I know we need to have this project go forward."

Four companies bid on the project. Design work by Russell Planning and Engineering of Durango, Colo., with a bid of more than $200,000, met the city's criteria and was considered the best of the four.

"The challenges we have would be cost," said City Manager Joshua Ray. "There are (an) additional five items that don't have cost attached to them. Their (the engineering firm's) approach is different from anything I've seen since I've been here."

Mayor Pro-tem Jim Crowley also said he was not ready to more forward.

"We need to move forward (on) this," Crowley said, "but I'm having indigestion with the price tag."

With plans for construction of the North Pedestrian Bridge set to begin in September, commissioners were pressed to go forward with design plans to connect the bridge to the terminus point of North Main Avenue.

But they balked at a price tag of nearly a quarter of a million dollars.

"We are extremely confident this firm can deliver the design for this project," Ray said. "I strongly recommend we renegotiate with them. I am confident there can be change. We can go back to the firm and work to renegotiate with them on price."

More information about the city of Aztec s projects can be found on the city's website.

Work to the North Main corridor would include a pedestrian-friendly plaza, landscaping, a turn-around loop roadway at the trail head, sidewalks and crosswalks, utilities for any future commercial development and a trail that will connect North Main Avenue to the river.

The project is tentatively slated to begin in the fall after the engineering firm receives public input at a 4 p.m. meeting on August 20 at the Aztec Senior-Community Center, 101 S. Park Ave. The firm would make a presentation to share its design plans for the trail-and-bridge project and field questions and ideas from the public.

"After the public meeting to solicit public feedback for the North Main development, the engineering firm will narrow design plans down to two or three concepts," said Ed Kotyk, the city's projects manager. "After that, the city commission will decide on the ultimate concept."

Commissioners will meet on July 31 to discuss bidding negotiations.



James Fenton covers Aztec and Bloomfield for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4631 and jfenton@daily-times.com. Follow him @fentondt on Twitter.