Bland water project moving forward with bids approved; change orders needed to decrease project cost by $301,000

By Roxie Murphy, Staff Writer
Posted 4/14/21

BLAND — Integrity Engineering’s Terris Cates congratulated Bland aldermen on April 5 for concluding the bidding process on the city’s six-year water infrastructure project and being …

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Bland water project moving forward with bids approved; change orders needed to decrease project cost by $301,000

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BLAND — Integrity Engineering’s Terris Cates congratulated Bland aldermen on April 5 for concluding the bidding process on the city’s six-year water infrastructure project and being able to get to work.

“We are all systems go,” Cates said at the beginning of his presentation while handing out multiple bids for the project. “We don’t have to have all of the answers tonight but we can take some official action.”

Cates provided copies of the bids that he was recommending. Contract one on the elevated water tower and ground storage tanks had three bids; contract two on the electrical and mechanical improvements in the two wells and treatment control facility had one bid; and contract three on the pipeline contract had five bids.

“Contract one, we need to move some money around,” Cates began. “Contract two is within $290 of the estimate and this one bidder is $100,000 less than the previous bid we had last year.”

Phoenix Fabricators bid $646,800, or 82 percent of the engineer’s estimate; Mid-State Pipeline bid $361,590, or two percent higher than the engineer’s estimate; and the lowest responsive, responsible bidder on contract three was Donald Maggi, Inc., with a bid of $1,284,344, or 98 percent of the engineer’s estimate.

Overall, compared to bids that were received on Feb. 21, 2020, the project came in at $191,418 less this year.

“The project was divided into three separate specialized contracts in an endeavor to save a general contractor’s 15 to 20 percent markup and thereby have more money constructively applied to the city’s water improvement project,” Cates told the board both during his presentation and in the letter to the mayor and aldermen.

He added that part of the increase in cost for the project is due to the jump in prices on plastic piping. Cates added that the bids and scope of the project still came up about $301,000 above budget and had several suggestions to shave the project to bring it within budget.

“Option one: Cut the water tower demotion and the brick tower demotion as well as some of the radio reads along with $1,900 in pip — we can balance the budget and pass it tonight,” Cates said.

He added that the board could accept the bids of the lowest responsible bidders without making changes to the project just yet.

City Clerk Carrie Krupp asked about the stability of the water tower and brick base.

“The tower is functioning, but its days are numbered,” Terris said, adding that it is not dangerous at the moment, but its life expectancy and longevity as it sits is expired. 

Alderman Ned Steiner asked if they could use the current functioning tower for farmers and the fire department to use.

“There is an expense to maintaining it for that period of time. It will need to be inspected every three years. You would have to redo the infrastructure to disconnect it from the city water system,” Cates began. “You would not be able to continue using it as is. You would need to have it sandblasted on the inside and touch up the outside. It would cost about as much to maintain it as the bid to take it down (between $64,000 and $84,000).”

If the city chose to wait several years to take it down, it would still have to have water in it and be disconnected from service.

The board agreed that charging farmers to fill up their tankers during drought at a special rate so they wouldn’t risk draining their ponds or burning up their well pumps, as well as the fire department for fill-ups, could save them on treated water and lost water pressure.

“We will have to take it down eventually,” Alderman Mark Farran said.

Cates said that structurally, the tower is fine, but it is at the end of its design life and is not good for the public long-term.

“It could have another 20 years under that idea,” Cates said. “You would definitely have to redo the inside. It could last longer but not for public use as drinking water.”

Alderman Diana Mayfield agreed.

“The reductions are here,” she said. “It is maybe a wise choice for us to move forward.”

Mayfield asked Public Works Director Jason Lewis how he felt about waiting to purchase some of the automatic meter readers until later to help shave costs on the project. Lewis warned the meters are about $250 each outside of the project discount.

Cates asked the board for a motion to accept the three best and lowest bids. The board made a motion and 4-0 vote, and Mayor Lee Medlock signed a letter to the Department of Agriculture saying, “We concur with our Engineer’s recommendation to award the city of Bland’s water improvement project to the lowest, responsive, responsible bidder on each contract. We recommend awarding contract one to Phoenix Fabricators, Avon, Indiana; contract two to Mid-State Pipeline and Maintenance of Belle; and contract three to Donald Maggi, Inc., Rolla.”

The letter went on to state that bid tabulations were enclosed and the city requested approval to move forward.

“Change orders can be added to each contract line item later to reduce the costs of the project (to bring it within budget),” Cates told aldermen.

The board voted 4-0 to move forward with the project.

Board members also noted that the city is expected to receive funding, about $97,000, from the American Rescue Act passed by congress earlier this year. Those funds may also be used for water infrastructure updates.

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