Visalia fire station costs more than predicted

Visalia Fire Department Station 56 relocates at a later date than initially expected, now anticipated for 2024

VISALIA – Despite a prolonged process, the city is taking the steps to get Visalia Fire Department’s Station 56 a new home just a few blocks away from its current location.

At the city council meeting on Oct. 17, the city’s engineering department received council approval to take the bid construction documents for the fire station to the city’s Measure N committee for approval of additional project funding. 

The city originally had a tentative schedule to go out for bids on the new station in November 2021, get construction started in January and complete the station by June, but after some delay, the station is now planned for completion by 2024. With city approval of the bid documents, the Measure N committee will determine if an amendment will be made to Measure N revenues  to fund an additional $4.3 million into Station 56.

According to the staff report, overall costs for the project have increased since it was first proposed in 2018 and the project’s current cost estimation is approximately $8 million. The report stated that construction and land costs have risen over the last seven years, so the original $4 million budgeted for the project funding was “probably too optimistic.” 

Due to this shortfall in the budget, and to get the project started, staff requested that city council authorize staff to begin the process for an amendment to Measure N, which was adopted in 2016, to provide Station 56 with the additional funding it needs in the amount of $4.3 million. 

According to the report, the project’s estimated schedule includes a groundbreaking ceremony for the station in December and stated that construction on the project will start in January 2023. The estimated time for project completion is 14 months, based on the time frame for similar projects.

“Construction is expected to be completed in May of 2024 which will be celebrated with a ribbon-cutting ceremony,” the staff report stated. “Our firefighters will move into their new station in May of 2024.”

Since 2006, the current Fire Station No. 56 has been purchasing space from Cal Fire at its Tulare Unit headquarters on 1968 S. Lovers Lane. According to the staff report, the fire station’s lease will expire by the end of 2023, so city staff identified the need to relocate the station to the west side of Lovers Lane, south of Tulare Avenue. 

In 2018, Cal Fire notified the city it would need to relocate eventually, so city council authorized $4 million for the purchase, design and construction of the station later that year. By constructing the new Station 56 up the road from the Cal Fire headquarters, this allows the Visalia Fire Department to maintain its four-minute response time to most of eastern Visalia.

According to the staff report, the city opened two bids that were submitted for the project on Sept. 30. The city’s engineering staff is recommending that the city accept the bid from Forcum/Mackey Construction, Inc., a company based in Ivanhoe. The bid from Forcum/Mackey Construction, Inc. is in the amount of $5,670,000, and the bid from the other construction company, AMG and Associates, Inc. in Santa Clarita, is in the amount of $6,335,000.

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