Bid Opening for Vera Cruz Sewer Project
Low bids are potential good news for property owners
Bids from contractors interested in installing public sewers to serve more than 250 homes and a few commercial properties in and around the village of Vera Cruz were opened Jan. 6 at Lehigh County Authority's office in Wescosville.
The bids are “good news,” said Upper Milford Township Manager Dan DeLong, because most are at or below the estimates of a consulting engineer: $2.6 million for the first contract and $1 million for the second contract.
Originally, 29 companies sought information on the project. Ultimately, nine companies submitted bids for the first contract, to install piping in the right-of-way. Those bids ranged from a low of $2,332,090 submitted by PACT Construction Inc. to a high of $4,629,485 submitted by Linde Corporation.
Only one company, Environment One Corp., submitted a bid for the second contract, to supply individual pumps at each home or business and to supervise the proper installation by each property owner’s plumber. The company submitted a bid of $755,865.
Lance M. Babbitt, capital works project manager for the LCA, stressed that the bids are “for informational purposes only” at this point. Funding and regulatory agencies must scrutinize each bid to determine which will be “the lowest responsive bid.”
In other words, the agencies will determine which bids meet all requirements of the project. The lowest bidder won’t necessarily be awarded the contract.
However, DeLong said the reputation of the sole bidder on the second contract, Environment One Corp., is excellent. “They have an excellent track record of equipment that is very reputable,” DeLong said.
The public sewer system is needed because failing septic systems have threatened public health and the quality of nearby Leibert Creek for many years in Upper Milford.
An analysis based on state Department of Environmental Protection criteria has determined that nearly 85 percent of the homes in the Vera Cruz area have confirmed, suspected or potential malfunctioning septic systems.
Liesel Adam, spokeswoman for the LCA, said there has been discussion of the need for public sewers in the Vera Cruz area for at least a decade and possibly as long as 20 years.
More than four years ago, the project cost was estimated to be $7.2 million. In 2006, estimated costs for the property owners totaled an average of $7,850 per property, plus a $1,378 annual fee.
Now, that no longer will be the case, taking into consideration the lower bids. However, the cost for property owners cannot be determined until the bids are awarded.
Adam and DeLong said the scope of the project, including different technology, has changed significantly since earlier cost estimates were projected. The pipes will not need to go as deep as originally planned, DeLong said.
The change in scope of the project probably accounts for the lower bids, Adam said, plus the fact that in this economy, contractors are “seeking good jobs and trying to be competitive.”
During the next six weeks, Adam said, there will be “a flurry of activity” as the LCA and funding and regulatory agencies scrutinize the bids to determine the ultimate cost of the project. The LCA will then make a recommendation to Upper Milford, Adam said, possibly by mid February.
However, Adam and DeLong said Vera Cruz property owners will be kept in the loop. The LCA and township will hold an informational session for property owners before the Upper Milford supervisors schedule a vote on whether to authorize the project with an ordinance.
The other bids for the first contract, to install the piping, are as follows: Doli Construction Corporation, $2,337,521; Wexcon Inc., $2,345,818; Mazzucca Enterprises, $2,457,790; Joao & Bradley Construction Co., Inc., $2,595,595; N. Abbonizio Contractors Inc., $2,754,561; and James T. O’Hara, Inc., $3,433,210.