Chris Caskey, The Union Democrat

PUBLIC MEETING: Sonora City Council, 5 p.m. Monday, City Hall, 94 N. Washington Street

The Sonora City Council will decide Monday whether to award a contract for the Mono Way widening project or throw out the first round of bids after the estimated price came in significantly higher than the $2.75 million engineer's estimate.

The plan is intended to ease traffic between Greenley Road and Fir Drive. Proposed work includes building a retaining wall, replacing a 36-inch culvert and earthwork.

Contractor bids for the work ranged from $3.4 million and $4.6 million.

City Engineer Gerard Fuccillo said his estimate was based on costs seen in previous city projects.

"Admittedly, the city engineer's estimate was optimistic, and with the hope that the bidders would sharpen their pencils in bidding the project," the memo from Fuccillo states.

The process has been complicated by the fact that low bidder KW Emerson requested to withdraw its bid because of a clerical error. And another bidder, George Reed Inc., filed a bid protest alleging the lowest bid was incomplete.

The City Council could accept the low bid as it stands, throw out the low bid or throw out all three and accept a second round under an updated estimate.

"If it is decided to put the project out to rebid, it could be bid in January to preserve next year's schedule," Fuccillo said in his memo.

Timeline estimates had major work beginning in March and wrapping up as early as December 2014.

The plan calls for making the stretch of Mono Way a five-lane thoroughfare to ease traffic. The city is administering the project, but it is a cooperative venture between Sonora and Tuolumne County. The county is covering 90 percent and Sonora is covering 10 percent of the cost through traffic mitigation fees.

The project includes excavation, grading and the construction of new sidewalks along one of the county's busiest roads, which sees 22,000 cars a day. It will also widen a portion of Mountain View Road and add left- and right-turn pockets at Greenley Road and Fir Drive.

Another major component of the project will be a retaining wall that stretches from Roselyn Lane to Fir Drive. The wall's height will range from 12 feet to 4 feet tall, with 16-foot-long panels covering the wall with a material simulating stacked stones.

The city is also considering proposals by local arts groups to create some form of public art along the wall.