The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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November 14, 2012

Sewage projects advance

JOHNSTOWN — The city of Johnstown apparently will be able to complete the second phase of its sanitary-storm separation project in Walnut Grove and Hornerstown for about $500,000 less than anticipated.

On Wednesday, council approved a pair of resolutions authorizing City Manager Kristen Denne to finalize deals with A. Liberoni Inc. and Greenland Construction Inc. to perform the sewer work. Liberoni will be paid $2.8 million to make the upgrades in Walnut Grove.

Greenland will receive $5.1 million for the larger Hornerstown project. Money for the repairs will come from the Pennsylvania Infrastructure and Investment Authority.

The cost is well below the original estimate of about $8.4 million for both contracts.

“That’s a good thing,” said the city’s engineer, Steve Sewalk from The EADS Group.

Johnstown was able to save some money by dividing the work.

“Two contracts does make it a little bit more competitive,” Sewalk said.

“You get a better bid. Rather than putting one contract out for $8 (million) or $9 million, we try to break it in half and get a very competitive number.”

Councilman William Gentile Jr. asked Sewalk if any local businesses pursued the contracts.

“You get a call here and you get a call there (with people asking) ‘How come we’re not able to bid?’ ” Gentile asked.

No Johnstown-headquartered company placed a bid, according to Sewalk. Liberoni is from Pittsburgh. Greenland operates out of Clearfield.

“From what I’ve been told, after you get about over like $200,000 to $300,000, the bonding requirements for the smaller contractors really change at that point,” Sewalk said.

The work in Hornerstown and Walnut Grove is part of a large-scale effort to modernize the city’s sewer system. The overall project will take a decade to complete. It will remain a major factor in the city’s budget process and politics throughout the process,

“It’s sewers, sewers and more sewers right now in Johnstown,” Denne said.

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