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County requirements could increase Paonia project costs

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Requirements by Delta County related to the final phase of the four-phase out-of-town water line replacement project on Lamborn Mesa could increase the cost of the project by about $100,000.

At the April 11 board meeting trustees voted to adopt a revised bid for project Schedule C, and to direct town staff to continue negotiations with the county on the requirements, which the town's engineer has deemed unnecessary. Work on the final phase is scheduled to begin later this month when the other three projects are completed by Hotchkiss-based contractor Pitt Construction Company, LLC.

The project originally called for replacement of a four-inch distribution line and five taps located on private land with a six-inch line, and to connect the taps to the new line. The line was installed and is owned by the landowner, and is maintained by the town. Project engineer Steve LaBonde with WestWater Engineering called it the "worst section" in the system.

When negotiations with the landowner to replace the line on his land failed, the original plan was revised to move the new line onto Lamborn Mesa and Minerich roads. The county, which owns the roads, has already granted easements for the project.

The original bid price for the project was approximately $84,400. Not included in the bid is 130 tons of asphalt replacement and the importation of pit run trench backfill. LaBonde said he believes that the material available on-site is sufficient for backfill. The town would also warranty the work.

"It is fair to say that requirements by the county are going to cost the town an additional $105,000," said town administrator Ken Knight.

Trustees considered two options. The first requires excavation of about 2,500 feet of road, of which roughly 760 feet of asphalt. The county is requiring that if the gravel section of Minerich Road is excavated, the contractor must import backfill, rather than use materials available on-site. That option is estimated to bring the total project cost to $228,668.

A second option would require a bore under the roadway to avoid disturbing the surface, and pull the pipe through the bore. The option, which is currently being required by the county, would increase the total project cost to $236,920.

LaBonde recommended that the town negotiate the requirements with the county, and let them know the financial impacts they will have on the town.

Knight said he understands the county's position. But if the project isn't completed, the town will end up with a four-inch line that it does not own. He said he believes that is worth the additional cost, and that it should be done now, rather than later.

Trustee David Bradford, who serves on the town Public Works committee, said the new line "is integral to making the rest of the project work." In addition, if the board votes to go with the second option to bore, special pipe would need to be ordered as soon as possible.

The town is also scheduled to begin construction of the Third Street water distribution line project the first week of May. Funding for both projects comes from low-interest loans from the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority and from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, with matching funds from the town. Because Third Street bids came in below engineer estimates, the funds are available even with the added costs to the Lamborn project, said Knight. But it makes it all that more important to stay within budget.

Trustees also unanimously approved five changes orders related to the project totaling $23,036.81. According to LaBonde, the contractor will reduce his original bid schedule by about $7,000 to reflect the original cost of completing the section, bringing the net cost of the changes to about $16,000.

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