ELKINS, W.Va. — The city is mere steps away from embarking on the biggest public works project in municipal and county history.
Project officials, city representatives and contractors gathered Monday at Elkins City Hall during a pre-construction meeting to discuss the impending $37 million Elkins Water System Improvement Project.
The pre-construction meeting was intended to inform contractors about their responsibilities and requirements before notices to proceed are issued Wednesday when the money becomes available during a scheduled final bond closing with both lenders.
The estimated $37 million project was bid out in four contracts. Contracts one and two pertain to different areas of the water distribution system, while contract three is for the construction of a raw water line and contract four is for the water treatment plant.
Pro Contracting, based out of the Clarksburg area, was awarded contracts one through three, at an estimated cost of $2,088,185, $2,632,408.00 and $1,608,670, respectively.
Contract four – the water plant – was awarded to Triton Construction from Nitro at an estimated cost of $20,882,000. Representatives from both companies were present at the meeting.
Project Engineer Greg Belcher of the Chapman Technical Group conducted the meeting. Belcher reported the group is awaiting two permits that he expects to be in soon. He added the upcoming winter could impede progress.
“The plan, for now, is to hold off until spring,” he told the contract winners. “If there’s thoughts of doing other than that, you can let us know.”
Belcher noted once construction begins, there will be monthly progress meetings and change orders must be approved before work begins. He added two construction representatives will be on site during the project – one for the pipe work and one for the water plant.
Officials have said once the project breaks ground, the facility should be up and running within two years. Representatives from Pro Contracting and Triton Construction reported during the meeting they are formulating a schedule for construction, which they will make available at a future monthly progress meeting.
Operations Manager Bob Pingley said he’s looking forward to the project getting underway and acknowledged “there are going to be bumps along the way.”
“Communication is key,” he said. “There’s a lot of work that’ll be going on in a fairly small community here. At this point we have a pretty good system for getting the word out, but we can’t do anything unless we communicate.”
Pingley said good communication is necessary to ensure residents are kept informed “to minimize some of the disruption to their lives.”
After the meeting, Pingley said there will be public meetings scheduled to ensure citizens are kept in the loop.
“We want to let people know what’s upcoming and what they can expect in a particular area,” he said. “We’ll get as much information out to them as we possibly can as far in advance as we possibly can.”
Pingley added it’s important to keep the public informed so “they aren’t surprised.”
“It’ll make everybody’s lives easier and we’ll do the very best we can with that,” he said.
Mayor Van Broughton called Monday “a big day in Elkins history.”
“I’m proud of it,” he said. “We’ve been working on it for the last decade and it’s here – all we have to do is break ground.”
In 2014, the USDA Rural Utilities Service gave the city permission to begin taking bids for construction of the new water treatment plant and distribution system upgrades.
RUS officials then agreed to provide $15.5 million of the funding for the originally estimated $31 million project, with the West Virginia Infrastructure and Jobs Development Council providing the remaining $15.5 million.
In November, the city received more than $6 million in additional funds from RUS as part of the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program, which provides crucial funding for projects that promote clean drinking water systems, sanitary sewage and solid waste disposal, and storm water drainage to households and businesses.
Pingley previously told The Inter-Mountain bids for the project came in higher than expected, making this loan essential for the work to move forward without any further delay.
To read more from The Inter-Mountain, subscribe here.