Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Recession brings screaming deals to Bellevue

Galena Engineering beats Forsgren Associates 2 to 1

Express Staff Writer

The Great Recession seems to have a silver lining in Bellevue as the city scrambles to pay for necessary upgrades to its aging infrastructure. Construction bids for water line replacements have come in at half the estimated amount, and one engineering firm has come up with a creative solution expected to save the city more than $150,000 in well-drilling costs.

Engineer Steven Yearsly of Forsgren Associates in Twin Falls estimated earlier this summer that it would cost the city $202,000 to dig and replace water mains under six blocks of alleys between Chestnut and Pine streets. On Monday night he came to the City Council with a bid by locally based Burks Excavation to do the job for $97,000, less than half the estimate.

"You won't see prices this low again in our lifetime," Yearsly told the council, which approved an additional six blocks of work for about $200,000. Doubling the scope of the original plan will get the city one year ahead of schedule on an eight-to-10-year plan to upgrade water mains from 4-inch to 8-inch widths across the city.

City Administrator Tom Blanchard said the goal is to increase water pressure to meet fire-fighting flow rates. The city will also install meters on the new lines.

"This is an opportunity to gather soma data," Blanchard said.

More than 100 houses on Sixth, Seventh and Eighth streets will be connected to water meters under the plan. All of the residences are on 6,000-square-foot lots. The city is identifying larger lots to install meters for comparison purposes.

Earlier this spring, the council authorized Yearsly to dig a new well on Chestnut Street beside an old well that was not producing enough water due to a rock that had been lodged 138 feet into the 200-foot deep shaft in the 1970s.

Yearsly told the council that "screen holes" intentionally cut in the well casing when it was dug to allow water to fill the well, along with the troublesome rock, limited the well's capacity to 350 gallons per minute, well below the 1,500 gallons per minute sought by city officials.

Yearsly's solution was to dig a new well nearby for $280,000 that would produce 1,500 gallons per minute, enough to provide backup for another well in town.

At Thursday's meeting, Mike Choat of Galena Engineering in Hailey presented the council with a more economical solution.

He said his company could knock the 1970s rock out of the Chestnut well, replace the pump and develop the well sufficiently to produce 1,000 gallons per minute. He said his plan would cost the city $150,000 to $200,000 dollars less than Yearsly's.

"If the city should ever need more capacity than this, it would be from a big new annexation and the city could ask the developer to pay for a new well," Choat said.

The council agreed with Choat and authorized his plan. The work is expected to begin this month.

In other news, the council authorized an increase in city staff hours from 32 hours per week to 36 hours per week beginning next week.

Tony Evans:

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