'Competitive' bids received for expansion

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Georgia and Florida companies appear set to receive a city utility recommendation for construction contracts valued at nearly $13.14 million, according to the superintendent of Lewisburg's Water and Wastewater Department.

Meanwhile, Lewisburg Plumbing and Heating was listed in the apparent best bidder's bid package as one of the subcontractors for the long-expected expansion of the sewage treatment plant, Department Superintendent Kenneth Carr said Monday.

The utilities' board of directors is set to meet at 4 p.m. Thursday with Greg Davenport, project engineer for J.R. Wauford & Co., Consulting Engineers who designed the project that has a $2 million federal subsidy from economic stimulus money made available through the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. TDEC is the agency that's mandated the project as it enforces U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rules.

"We're probably three weeks away from awarding the contracts," Carr said. "Construction should start in early July."

The utility board will be requesting a special called meeting of the City Council, possibly for Tuesday next week, when the elected leaders may authorize an award of the two contracts: One to double the capacity of the treatment plant; Another to build a 10-million-gallon holding tank so wastewater treatment could be delayed.

Both projects are to end overflows of partially treated wastewater when the flow is so great that only solids can be removed with a swirl system.

Choate Construction Co., Atlanta, Ga. is the apparent best bidder for the plant expansion; offering to do the job for $11,279,950, Carr said.

The Crom Corp., of Gainesville, Fla. submitted the apparent best bid of $1,858,000 to build the holding tank that's expected to be 36 feet tall and 256 feet in diameter, Carr said. The concrete surface is to be painted to prevent mildew.

Those two general contractors will hire subcontractors for various parts of the project and that includes the heating, ventilating and air conditioning system.

"Choate may use us for the mechanical portion of the contract, which would be basically HVAC for the building where the plant operators would work," Lewisburg Plumbing and Heating owner Patrick Jordan said Monday.

Choate "listed subcontractors on their documents and we were listed," Jordan said, "but that's the extent of the good news I have from it. It's just under $100,000, which is a sizeable contract for us."

Carr indicated that if Choate is awarded the larger of the two contracts, then it would appear that Lewisburg Plumbing and Heating will be hired, too.

The bids from Choate and Crom are, together, $117,950 over the engineer's estimate for the project. That amount is less than one percent (9/10ths of 1 percent) over the original estimate of $13,020,000, according to Carr's calculations.

"We had nine bids" for the big contract, the department superintendent said. "They're reasonably close" and therefore "competitive."

He listed them as:

* $11,279,950, Choate Construction Co., Atlanta, Ga.

* $11,665,620, W. Rogers Co., Lexington, Ky.

* $11,780,780, Western Summit Constructors, Denver, Colo.

* $12,104,834, Building Crafts Inc., Highland Heights, Ky.

* $12,331,050, BRB Contractors Inc., Topeka, Kan.

* $12,657,400, W&O Construction Co. Livingston, Tenn.

* $12,839,143.60, WWPS, Villa Rica, Ga.

* $13,129,702, W.L. Hailey & Co., Nashville.

* $13,925,370, Smith Contractors inc. Lawrenceburg, Ky.

Carr indicated that receiving bids from companies from cities such as Denver and Topeka reflect the competitive nature of the current environment for contractors.

Two bids were received for the holding tank and they are:

* $1,858,000, The Crom Corp., Gainesville, Fla.

* $1,946,146, Precon Corp., Newberry, Fla.

While Crom will build a 10-million-gallon holding tank, Carr explained that the swirl system "will still be in place, but we would not use it unless there was an emergency."

Rainwater seeping into the ground too frequently infiltrates sewers, thereby increasing the flow of wastewater to be treated by the sewage treatment plant. The city continues to replace its broken pipes, but that's a mammoth job with costs exceeding tank construction and plant expansion, and it doesn't include the cost of replacing property owners' service lines which are also a source of additional flow.

A 16-million-gallon per day treatment capacity and a 10-million-gallon holding tank is to resolve the issue of pollution from back flows nearly 99 percent of the time, thereby eliminating almost all chances of the need for the swirl and eliminating the prospect of wastewater backing up in people's houses, Carr explained.

As for Choate's ability to deal with a $13.14-million job, Carr said the company reported about $100 million-worth of water and sewer work a year and about $400 million in general construction work.

In comparison, P.F. Moon & Co. of West Point, Ga. filed what appeared to be the best bid for an expansion of Spring Hill's sewage treatment plant. That bid was for $15,583,000, and while the project is a plant expansion, there are differences in design, Carr said, and "There was more variation in their bidding than ours" while bids opened here on May 10 seemed to be clustered without a few high bids and a few very low bids.