Utility bids lower than expected

Friday, September 11, 2009

Bids were so much lower than expected for a Lewisburg utility project that it has been expanded, according to leaders of the city's Water and Wastewater Department who met Tuesday afternoon.

Pipeworks-Plus Inc. of Tullahoma was found to be the best bidder for a sewer repair project in the vicinity of Lewisburg Public Housing Authority homes. Pipeworks' bid was nearly $354,000, but the expanded project will increase the contract to more than $450,000.

Lewisburg's Water and Wastewater Department received a state grant for the project. The bid from Pipeworks is about 80 percent of what the city expects to spend on the job.

"There's going to be some additional work to this contract because the price came in so low," Utility Superintendent Kenneth Carr said during a special meeting of the Board of Directors at the utilities' offices on First Avenue North.

"The economy is the reason for the lower bids," Carr said.

After Carr explained the situation to the board, vice chairman Gary Bolling voted for Director Billy Hill's motion to accept Pipeworks' bid. Chairman Hershel Davis was absent.

The sewer repair project is a continuation of several similar jobs in Lewisburg where the city has received state grants that are provided to either replace broken pipes, or repair the pipes. Very little of the work requires open trenching.

Past projects, notably some side streets south of West Commerce Street, had a device threaded through the sewer. It bursts the existing deteriorated pipe and creates a larger hole so that a flexible pipe can be inserted.

Broken pipes leak, but because the pipe is a hollow area, ground water seeps into the pipe, thereby diluting and increasing the sewer's flow and creating a greater burden on the treatment plant.

The project assigned to the Tullahoma business will use another method to end infiltration of groundwater into sewers, Carr explained Tuesday. A resin-impregnated cloth will be inserted and then water - heated to about 180 degrees - is flowed into the pipe. Resin in the cloth reacts to heat and becomes solid as it fits into cracks and breaks in the pipe. The patches are so hard, they can't be scratched with a backhoe, Carr said.

About 3,000 feet of the 10,100-foot-long project will be sewer service connections to about 120 homes, the superintendent said. That's to replace broken connections. Typically such work is done when the homes are low-income housing.

The project is planned with some 7,100 feet of repair work. That's including the difference between the bid and the dollar amount of the grant, plus some money from the utility since more work is economical now. Only about 1,400 feet of the project will be open cut and trench work.

The work was expected to start about 10 days after the board's meeting on Tuesday. The project is to be completed under the terms of a 90-day contract.

The project won't interfere with residents' ability to use sewers, as Carr explained, "Everybody can flush."

o o o

* $353,929 - Pipeworks-Plus, Tullahoma.

* $359,017 - LTS Construction, Winchester.

* $439,557 - A&M Contractors, Tullahoma.

* $451,188 - Portland Utilities Construction, Portland.

* $494,839 - Hawkins & Price, Wartrace.

* $577,054 - American Infrastructure, Hanceville, Ala.