Greene County water projects may be delayed as construction costs soar

The Greene County commission re-bid two of its water improvement projects Thursday as soaring construction costs threaten to delay other elements of the county’s water improvement plan.

Commissioners received a single bid for the Grange Hall booster station and water main extension project, located between Lofino Park and Indian Ripple Road. Originally estimated at $750,000, the only bid from Performance Site Development came in at over $946,000, requiring the commissioners reject the bid and start over again.

Ohio law requires that a bid cannot be awarded if the cost is more than 10% above the engineer’s estimate.

Similarly, bids for the county’s North Wellfield refurbishment, originally estimated at $1.65 million, came back between $2.1 million and $2.4 million, per county documents.

The disparity between the two numbers isn’t surprising, said Randy Gilbert, deputy director of Greene County Sanitary Engineering.

“We know the market is so volatile,” he said. “We were hopeful that had a high enough estimate to be able to move forward. We’re disappointed to find they’re as high as they are, but no one has a good feel for the market.”

A major problem is the cost of materials and the time it takes to get them delivered. Greene County typically uses ductile iron piping for its water projects, but the price for ductile iron piping changes daily.

“Components in and of themselves are going up faster than anyone can keep track of right now. We are experiencing this problem on all bids,” Gilbert said.

Lead times and delivery dates are also an issue. Delivery estimates for iron piping from the date of order to date of delivery is 60 weeks, Gilbert said.

The county has taken steps to keep costs down by modifying some project builds. For example, the Grange Hall water main specifications now allow contractors to bid either ductile iron piping or C909 PVC piping. Delivery estimates for PVC pipes is only 60 days.

“We are making some of the same tweaks to any projects that haven’t gone out yet. We’re trying to address those as we go,” Gilbert said.

Greene County Sanitary Engineering Department has been upgrading the water and sewer system across its service area through a reinvestment campaign called Greene Forward. The goals of the series of projects include providing softer water, enhancing water quality and increasing system reliability.

However, other projects may be delayed because of cost issues, including the Little Sugarcreek-Feedwire extension, and several sewer projects, originally planned to start in 2024 and 2025.

“Prices don’t come down, but you can only afford to spend so much at any one time,” Gilbert said. “Delays are not going to save us money, but they are going to spread out the expenses.”

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