MAPS 3 construction in Oklahoma City is about to begin in earnest.
The MAPS 3 Citizen Advisory Board recommended approval Thursday of a $3.1 million contract for racecourse lighting improvements on the Oklahoma River.
David Todd, the city's MAPS program manager, said the lighting improvements will represent the first major construction project for MAPS 3. Construction on various projects is expected to continue though 2021.
“It's a good day, because we've made that transition into construction now,” Todd said. “As we go along, we'll continue to see more.”
The advisory board's recommendation will be forwarded to the Oklahoma City Council for formal approval. The council typically follows the board's recommendations with only a few exceptions.
Wynn Construction Co. turned in the lowest bid and will be awarded the contract if the council approves.
Lights for TV
The lighting improvements involve towering light poles along 500 meters of the Oklahoma River's racecourse. The lights will be brightest near the finish line for potential television coverage of night races, and the standards can support more lighting down the line
The original bids for the lighting improvements came in well over budget, so city staff and the MAPS 3 river subcommittee worked to change the requirements. More specific instructions allowed the bidders to reduce estimated expenses.
Wynn's bid came in at about $50,000 over the lighting project budget of $3 million, but it exceeded it by a low enough amount that it can be absorbed with minor changes to the rest of the Oklahoma River project budget, Todd said.
Construction on the lighting improvements is expected to begin this year.
MAPS 3 has an estimated total budget of $777 million, paid for by the latest version of a penny sales tax first approved in the 1990s. The projects are the river improvements, a convention center, a modern downtown streetcar, an urban downtown park, more and improved trails and sidewalks, improvements to State Fair Park and four senior health and wellness centers.
A companion item recommended by the board Thursday is a payment of up to $442,000 to the Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. for utility improvements in the area.
The lights and elements of the white-water course, which is also part of the MAPS 3 Oklahoma River improvements, require vastly more power than is available with current electric infrastructure along the river, city Public Works Director Eric Wenger said.
“It's not a household current when we talk about the electricity we're seeking down there,” Wenger said.