Local government

After plans for construction stalled in February, contracts for the improvement of drainage infrastructure in South Temple have now been approved.

The Temple City Council unanimously approved two resolutions Thursday for the construction of Phase 4B of the Bird Creek Interceptor project and consultation on the project. This will be the first of four phases for this final section of the project, and is estimated to take the city about two years to complete.

The contract for the first phase was approved at more than $10.7 million, with consultation from the engineers of the project approved at more than $1.1 million.

“When we bid this the first time as one large project we only got two bids,” City Engineer Richard Wilson said. “This one came in at a good price. The projection is the four phases will come in at about $17 million, which is close to our original opinion of probable cost. The bids we received the first time around were in excess of $21.5 million.”

The Bird Creek Interceptor project is part of the city’s move to improve and replace deteriorating sections of the existing interceptor, which was built in the mid-1950’s. The interceptor now services about 6,200 acres of central Temple with its wastewater lines.

Phase four of the project was originally going to be completed as one large project, but bids for it were rejected during the Feb. 20 City Council meeting after the bids were $6 million higher than estimates.

Assistant City Manager David Olson said the breaking down of the phase into four smaller phases allows for a more competitive bidding process. The breakdown in the phase will also allow specialized phases of the project to be differentiated from more routine work.

City staff had originally estimated the cost of this phase to come in at more than $11.4 million, about $693,000 more than the bid received by the city.

“When you have a really large project that gets over a certain dollar amount it limits the number of contractors that can bid on that project,” Olson said. “So what you see in cases like where we had two bidders on the larger project, is that when you have a low number of bidders you run the risk of having significantly higher prices. Less competition breeds higher prices.”

Phase 4B, the first of the four small phases, will isolate all of the needed tunneling construction work in the project and was chosen to go first in part out of budgeting concerns.

Crews on the project will create two tunnels for the interceptor using specialized hand tools, with a railroad track helping separate crews take away leftover earth. The northern El Capitan Tunnel will span 422 linear feet, while the southern Pecan Valley Tunnel will be 1,010 linear feet.

“This contractor is going to be using manual methods,” Wilson said. “I asked the engineer if it was going to be with a chisel and a hammer, and it is pretty close.”

Members of the City Council and city officials expressed relief that the project, which has been going on for more than eight years, is now on the final leg before completion. City Manager Brynn Myers said the project has been in progress longer than she has been with the city.

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