Construction begins again on Marengo's wastewater treatment expansion

MARENGO – The city will again break ground on its troubled wastewater treatment plant expansion in November after aldermen recently awarded a construction bid that is about $1.2 million higher than initial estimates.

The Marengo City Council earlier this week picked Peoria-based Williams Brothers Construction Inc. to construct the upgrade to the city’s aging wastewater plant for a low bid of $10.69 million.

The city received bids from six companies, topping at $11.67 million.

Earlier this year, H.R. Green, a McHenry engineering firm contracted to design the retooled project, estimated that construction would likely cost the city $9.5 million.

City officials Monday explained that the higher-than-expected bids were tied to increasing construction costs nationwide.

“We were a little bit surprised. On the other hand, it’s been reported that costs are going up,” City Manager Gary Boden said. “The bids were good. They were just higher, but not significantly higher, and not outside our financial capabilities.”

Aldermen approved the bid, 7-1, with 4th Ward Alderman Dennis Hammortree voting against it.

The Williams Brothers bid represents the third time the council has gone through the bidding process for the expansion project.

The city initially received bids in 2011 that were significantly higher than the city’s budget for the project.

Officials then revised the design and awarded a roughly $12 million bid to Gurnee firm J.J. Henderson.

Mayor Don Lockhart ordered J.J. Henderson to stop preliminary work after officials broke ground on the project late last summer. Crews found solid waste within a buried landfill on the site that city officials have said the original engineer overlooked.

City administrators then brought in H.R. Green to redesign the project, which avoids the problematic landfill along Route 23, near the Kishwaukee River.

The original $12 million loan from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency still will cover the new construction bid. The council eventually will discuss water and sewer rate increases that would pay back the loan.

Aldermen temporarily cut the rates last year after the project was suspended. They had nearly doubled the rates earlier, but Boden said this forthcoming increase likely will be smaller because the project is less than the previous construction attempts.

“We saved money. There is no question about that,” Boden said. “It’s just isn’t quite as much as we hoped for.”

Construction is expected to conclude sometime in 2015.

The council also annexed 183 acres east and west of Route 23 and south of Harmony Road in its ongoing quest to entice the Illinois Tollway Authority to build an interchange at Route 23 and Interstate 90.

Aldermen voted, 6-2, to annex the territory, with Hammortree and 2nd Ward Alderman Matt Keenum voting against it. Some questioned why the annexation was necessary after the city had extended its limit to the tollway a month ago.

City administrators said the extra territory was still a part of the city’s development plans. The 183 acres would cover the area around a future interchange, drawing future manufacturers, business parks and retailers, city documents show.

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