Warrenton awards $3.3 million for sewer projects

This file photo shows a portion of the Warrenton Wastewater Treatment Plant.
Adam Rollins
Staff Writer

The city of Warrenton last week awarded approximately $3.3 million to three companies for construction of new sewer mains and a new disinfection system at the city’s wastewater treatment plant.

Warrenton is in the final stage of a years-long process to install larger interceptor sewer lines – the main arteries of the sewer network – all across the city to handle larger volumes of wastewater. The last stretch of pipe, around 2 miles long, will connect from Fairlane Circle in the northwest to the wastewater plant on the northeast side of the city.

The Warrenton Board of Aldermen voted 6-0 on July 6 to award construction of the interceptor line to Unnerstall Contracting Company out of Pacific, which submitted the low bid of about $1.9 million.

Four other companies submitted bids for the project. The next lowest was Fischer Grading, based in Montgomery City, for $2.2 million. Pace Construction of St. Louis, and Luth & Sons of St. Louis, also submitted bids, as did Lamke Trenching & Excavating of Marthasville with a high bid of $3.1 million.

Before the bid was awarded to Unnerstall, Mayor Eric Schleuter expressed reservations about the company’s cost estimate being so much lower than its competitors.

“When you see somebody that far under, you’ve got to question why sometimes,” Schleuter commented.

City Public Works Director Guy Gevers, who assessed the bids, responded that much of the difference in the bid prices came from different assumptions about what the conditions of the ground would be.

“A lot of it is the rock that (Unnerstall) is assuming is not going to be there,” Gevers gave as an example. Excavating a significant amount of rock from the path of the sewer line would add a lot of cost to the work.

Looking at bids from the companies, Unnerstall’s competitors took this cost into account, budgeting anywhere from $176,000 to $550,000 of their bids to rock excavation, while Unnerstall allowed just $11,000. However, even if Unnerstall had added $200,000 to its bid for rock removal, it would still have been the low bidder.

As an additional cost for the sewer construction, Warrenton took the unusual step of preemptively purchasing the majority of the pipe needed for the project. Normally that would be part of a contractor’s costs and responsibilities.

“The price of pipe is going sky high, so we went ahead and got a set price for the pipe,” Gevers commented.

Aldermen voted 6-0 to purchase 9,100 feet of 30-inch pipe from Boehmer Brothers Utility Supply at a cost of $543,179 – $59.69 per foot. That beat the cost of the next-lowest bid from Core and Main by just 1 cent per foot of pipe, or $91 overall. Higher bids were submitted from Consolidated Pipe & Supply, and Midwest Municipal Supply.

Warrenton’s overall estimate for sewer line construction was $5.1 million, so a total price tag of $2.4 million so far led to optimistic comments from some of the aldermen. But veteran Alderman Bob Delaloye jokingly predicted that the contractors will be back for more once they find rock in the soil.

Finally, aldermen also approved a bid of about $832,000 to build an ultraviolet light disinfection system at the wastewater treatment plant. The added disinfection system is being mandated by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Gevers said.

The low bid was from Heggemann Inc. out of Warrenton. The next lowest bid of about $880,000 was from Poettker Construction of Bresse, Ill., with two other bids from Martin General Contractors of Eolia and Plocher Construction in Highland, Ill.

These sewer improvement projects are being paid for by $5.5 million in bond funding, part of a larger bond issuance approved by voters in 2014.


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