Board eyes final OK of additional $7 million for treatment plant

By MIKE ANTHONY

Final approval of two ordinances appropriating an additional $7 million for work related to the construction of the Lower Mera-mec Wastewater Treatment Plant in Oakville is scheduled to be con-sidered today — Jan. 12 — by the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District Board of Trustees.

The Board of Trustees will meet at 5 p.m. at the district’s headquarters, 2350 Market St., St. Louis.

The Lower Meramec Wastewater Treatment Plant, being constructed near Rogers Elementary School, will clean wastewater before discharging it into the Mississippi River. It will replace the Meramec and Baumgartner lagoons and eventually the Grand Glaize and Fenton treatment plants.

The district is under an administrative or-der from the Missouri Department of Nat-ural Resources to eliminate the Baumgart-ner Lagoon by December 2006 or pay up to $10,000 per day in penalties. The Meramec and Baumgartner lagoons will remain op-erational until the new plant is ready.

A nearly four-mile-long tunnel that will carry wastewater from the Baumgartner Lagoon to the new treatment plant is being constructed roughly 200 feet underground.

Initial approval of the two ordinances was given last month by trustees. As proposed, one ordinance would appropriate an additional $4.5 million for work related to the construction of the tunnel, while the second ordinance would appropriate an additional $2.5 million for the construction of a lift station.

Approval of both ordinances would in-crease the total cost of the Lower Mer-amec Wastewater Treatment Plant to $230 million. That cost encompasses all aspects of the project, including the treatment plant, the tunnel, lift station, site work and electrical supply to the site. It also in-cludes future projects, including a wetlands mitigation project and an educational/recreational facility.

The additional $4.5 million sought for work related to the tunnel includes:

• Surface grouting to eliminate flooding along an additional 1,500 feet of the tunnel — a cost of $1,660,000.

• A claim by the tunnel contractor, Baumgartner Joint Venture, for delays caused by the additional grouting work — a cost of $2,030,000.

• A claim by the tunnel contractor for additional ground support for the tunnel for safety reasons — a cost of $1,650,000.

• Dewatering associated with the construction of the Baumgartner sewer and Telegraph sewer — a cost of $980,000.

• Dewatering costs at the Arnold and Telegraph shafts — a cost of $400,000.

• Additional contingency — a cost of $505,000.

In a recent interview, Director of En-gineering Brian Hoelscher discussed the reasons behind the request for the additional $4.5 million for the tunnel work.

For example, when the additional grouting work was being performed, MSD officials told the tunnel contractor to stop working.

The tunnel contractor, Baumgartner Joint Venture, is comprised of Frontier-Kemper of Evansville, Ind., and Gunther-Nash of Creve Coeur, a subsidiary of Alberici Con-structors Inc.

“The contractor’s got a lot of men, a lot of equipment, a lot of stuff out there mobilized. So there’s a cost to that,” Hoelscher said. “We held him up for 58 days and right now he’s claimed $2,030,000 as a shut-down time — literally millions of dollars in equipment that’s just sitting there idle and not doing anything … So right now we’ve got that claim that we’re working with. That is his submitted value. That’s still under re-view. We agree with the contractor: ‘We owe you something for delays. We’re not sure it’s that amount.’ So we’re in the process of finishing up the negotiations as to what that amount will be.”

The tunnel goes underneath the Mera-mec River in two locations. Since going underneath the river the second time, the flooding problem has ceased, Hoelscher said.

But as the tunnel work progressed, additional supports were needed to keep the tunnel roof from collapsing — “something we didn’t expect and there was a lot more of it than we had originally anticipated,” he said. “As opposed to just drilling those bolts up into the roof (of the tunnel), the contractor was finding (what) he had to do was to construct additional supports in the roof for the safety of these workers … Instead of just driving those bolts up into the roof, he had to drive these bolts and then attach these straps across the top laterally and then he had to bridge those with other beams …”

The contractor has submitted a claim of $1.65 million for the additional support work, which is undergoing the same re-view as the other claim.

As for the $400,000 to dewater the Arnold and Telegraph shafts, he said, “We modified these shafts from the original design in order to accommodate the city of Arnold.”

The change in the scope of project re-quired additional dewatering work to be performed, Hoelscher said, noting that cost ultimately will be recovered from the city of Arnold. The MSD will pay the construction costs and bill Arnold over a 20-year period for the work.

Regarding the estimated $980,000 for the dewatering for the Baumgartner sewer and Telegraph sewer, the groundwater conditions were beyond what was anticipated in the original geotechnical report, he said.

The district also has a claim for liquidated damages against the contractor.

“The contractor has had some management problems on the project. He was late in turning over the lift station site … to the lift station contractor by 147 days and right now, by schedule, it looks like he’ll be 198 days late in turning the screen shaft over …,” Hoelscher said, noting those delays have liquidated damages assigned to them of $5,000 per day. “So right now with those two calculations, we’ve got a claim against the contractor of $1.725 million in liquidated damages charges that will get credited against these other claims.”

While an additional $4.5 million has been requested for the tunnel, the district anticipates $2 million in reimbursements — $1.65 million from the city of Arnold and an anticipated additional $850,000 in liquidated damages from the contractor for missing completion dates, according to Hoelscher.

The additional $2.5 million sought for the lift station work includes $1.25 million in additional expenses for the contractor, KCI Construction, caused by the tunnel contractor’s delays, an additional $770,000 for fire protection modifications and an additional $480,000 for contingency.

District officials are negotiating with the Mehlville Fire Protection District in an efffort to reduce the cost of the fire protection modifications without jeopardizing the safety of MSD employees or firefighters, Hoelscher said.