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Bid for Hanoverton sewer project far exceeds the county estimates

LISBON — The lone bid submitted for the Hanoverton sanitary sewer project exceeded the estimated cost by nearly $2 million when electronic bids were opened Wednesday.

United Earthworks LLC of Deerfield bid $7,127,875 to do the project to bring sanitary sewer service to the village of Hanoverton. The engineer’s estimate was $5,132,010 for a difference of $1,995,865, with the bid well over 10 percent of the estimate. Under normal circumstances, if bids exceed 10 percent of the estimated cost, the project must be rebid.

Troy Graft, chief deputy sanitary engineer for Columbiana County, said the prosecutor’s office has been asked to look at the legalities to determine whether the project can be awarded or not. A recommendation will be made at next week’s county commissioners’ meeting and then county commissioners will have to decide which directon to take.

Graft was expecting up to six bidders for the project, but in the end, only one put in a bid. When asked why he thought that happened, he said the others must have decided to pull out, knowing their bids would be over the estimate. Infrastructure money is out there, so contractors are busy, but inflation also hit, raising costs.

“It’s hard to know what prices are going to be. They’re through the roof,” he said.

During the commissioners’ meeting. Commissioner Mike Halleck mentioned the electronic bidding for the project, adding they were anticipating it would be very expensive because of inflation.

“There are so many unknowns right now,” Graft said.

The Hanoverton sanitary sewer project has been in the works for a very long time, with plans discussed when the late Don Lowe was a commissioner. A group of opponents, though, placed the question on the ballot and the project died. Several years ago, Graft said the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency issued orders for the village of Hanoverton to install sanitary sewers and around the same time, ordered the county to sewer Kensington, which is an unincorporated area. The county received

funding and installed a wastewater treatment plant in Kensington to serve the residents.

“We built the Kensington plant with the anticipation that we would be involved with sewering Hanoverton, with the exception of extra tanks needed to handle the flow from Hanoverton,” Graft said, explaining the plant has the capacity to serve Hanoverton, too.

The funding agencies approached the county sanitary engineer’s office and asked if the county would be willing to take the lead for getting sewer service to Hanoverton, since the village had no ability to do it on its own, promising to make the funding attractive.

Quicksall did the engineering and then the pandemic hit, but the plans finally reached the bidding process. Plans call for construction of a pump station on U.S. Route 30 between Hanoverton and Kensington, near the Dollar General, to pump the waste to the Kensington plant. Graft said the estimate is for 200 tap-ins to the sanitary sewer line. The law requires anyone within 200 feet of the sanitary sewer to tap into the system.

The village has been updating residents on the project through a monthly newsletter. At this point, Graft said he doesn’t know what the cost will be to residents for their monthly fee or whether they’ll have to pay a tap fee. Once the project is awarded, the construction is expected to take a year.

Several funding sources are lined up to cover the costs, with $4 million from the OEPA, a $950,000 grant from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, a $500,000 grant from H2Ohio, a $250,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission and a planning loan to pay for the engineering of $120,000 from the Ohio Water Development Authority.

If necessary, Graft said money from the American Rescue Plan Act could be requested, but nothing’s been decided at this point.

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