Tuesday, June 12, 2012

TOP STORY >> Greers Ferry water to flow

Leader staff writer

The contracts have been awarded and construction is expected to start Aug. 1 on the Lonoke-White Water Project that will bring water from Greers Ferry Lake in about two years to cities and water associations in central Arkansas.

“It’s a joyous day coming up pretty soon after 20 years of my life talking about this thing,” said Ricky Carter, acting program director for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Office in Arkansas, which will provide a little less than half of the funding.

An unanticipated increase in the price of ductile iron pipe made the bid for that part of the project $7 million more than estimated. But the bids on some of the other parts of the project came in lower for a total cost of about $5 million more than the expected $52 million.

The additional $5 million will be added to the $25 million that the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission had already agreed to pay.

Lonoke-White project manager Woody Bryant assured members during the Tuesday meeting at Ward City Hall that the funds were available and that their water rates would not be increased to pay for the additional funding.

The board -—-- made up representatives from member cities Austin, Beebe, Furlow, Grand Prairie/Bayou II, Jacksonville, North Pulaski, Vilonia and Ward — voted unanimously to award contracts to the low bidders. Project engineer Tommy Bond of Jacksonville noted that many were local contractors who had proven they were capable of doing the work.

PC Construction, a Vermont company that is working locally, will build the intake facility and treatment plant for $18 million.

The contract for the large water lines went to S&J Construction of Jacksonville for $21.5 million. Paladino Construction of Conway won the $2.7 million contract for the small lines to connect to the members’ systems.

Phoenix Fabrication of Indiana was awarded the $1.4 million contract for the water tank.

Frank Gardner Construction of Mt. Vernon will build the access roads into the treatment plant, intake site and water lines for $318,046.

NLS Construction of Rose Bud won the $2.1 million contract for the meter stations.

In addition to awarding contracts, the board voted to pay Bond Engineering $1.7 million for planning and design and Calvin Aldridge of Cabot $75,000 for auditing the project as required by the federal government since federal money will be used to fund much of it.

Legal fees of $175,000 will be divided between project attorney Clint McGue and bond attorney David Menz.

Inspections, divided be-tween Bond Engineering and Crist Engineering, will cost $1.5 million.

A ground-breaking ceremony could be held two or more weeks after construction begins because the senators who have been instrumental in the funding will likely be unavailable until then.

Permits from the Arkansas Department of Health and the U.S. Corps of Engineers have not been issued, but are expected soon, Bond told the board he recommended that they approve the low bids so his firm could get started on the paperwork.

The Lonoke-White Project has had many false starts since its inception, but Bond said that despite the increase in price, this time it’s going through.

“I don’t see any big trip logs out there,” he said.