City Commissioners unanimously approved a $1.99 million contract to United Materials of Great Falls during their March 1 meeting for the second phase of the southside water main replacement project.
The project will replace about 5,550 lineal feet of 6-, 8- and 12-inch water mains in 1st Avenue South, 2nd Avenue South and 12th Street South.
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The project will replace water mains in the area that have been failing with increasing frequency, according to the city public works department. Those failures have caused damage to property, roadways, disrupted traffic and water service to local residents and businesses.
The water main breaks have been primarily due to corrosive soils, age and the type of pipe material that was used. The water mains were installed in 1891, 1903 and 1919, according to the city public works department.
Paul Skubinna, public works director, said that they bid a similar water main replacement project in 2018 and comparatively, the pricing for pipes since then has increased 26-40 percent, depending on the contractor, and for asphalt, costs increased 25-40 percent.
Skubinna said that any time they do a water main project, they take inventory of the types of pipes in the area and the connections.
He said that whenever they’re in the street working on a main, if they find anything that seems like lead or galvanized, they go ahead and replace it to the curb stop.
That would be considered a partial replacement under the new rules from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that are set to take effect in October 2024 and would eventually need to be fully replaced, according to city officials.
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Work is scheduled to begin April 4, depending on weather and material availability.
During construction, residents and businesses will be placed on temporary water and traffic will be detoured around the area.
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The contractor will be required to coordinate construction activities with Fire Station 1 to maintain one open lane of traffic on 1st Avenue South between 9th and 10th Streets South, according to the public works department.
The project is being done in cooperation with the Montana Department of Environmental Quality and will replace about 5,550 lineal feet of 6-inch, 8-inch and 12-inch cast iron water main with 8-inch and 12-inch PVC water main; replace eight fire hydrants; 149 water service connections; 6,050 square yards of gravel; and 6,800 square yards of asphalt pavement.
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The city received two bids and United Materials submitted the low bid.
The other bid was from Central Excavation for $2,381,748, according to city documents.
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The project was prioritized as a needed capital improvement and is being funded through the public works department’s Water Utility Enterprise Fund.