Cost of Knox Wastewater Plant Upgrades Increases by Almost $46,000

The Knox Wastewater Treatment Plant improvement project looks like it’ll be over budget and behind schedule. Last week, the board of works approved a change order increasing the cost by almost $46,000.

Engineer Steve Henschen with Jones Petrie Rafinski explained that there were a few items that had to be changed after the work was bid out. “JPR recognizes we could’ve done some things a little bit better during the design phase,” he told board members. “We think these costs, if they had been in the design, they would have been in the bids, so your bids would’ve been higher by these dollar amounts roughly. It’s probably not as economical because when we’re getting change order pricing, it’s not as good as bid pricing.”

One of the big issues was that the original design would have made it hard to remove the grit pump if it ever had to be repaired or replaced. Henschen said JPR is willing to give the city $5,000, to help offset the $46,000 increase. Mayor Dennis Estok pointed out that while change orders are to be expected, they’re not covered by the grant funding the city got from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs. However, he believed that there is enough contingency money in the project’s bond revenues.

Meanwhile, Henschen discussed a mishap that recently occurred in the middle of pouring a concrete basement wall. “Their bucket that they were using to transfer concrete from the concrete truck – they had a big crane out there – the cable snapped on the crane. That bucket slammed to the ground,” Henschen said. “Luckily, nobody was hurt, and it didn’t fall on any equipment or anything like that. But now I’m left with this fresh concrete down here, where we want to do this all in one pour. We want that concrete to come up.”

Henschen said Thieneman Construction was willing to take out the concrete and start over, but JPR was concerned that would have caused more damage. In the end, JPR asked the construction company to use a high-quality bonding agent to secure the joint. Henschen told board members that it won’t pose any structural issues, but he can’t rule out the possibility of a future leak.

The project had been scheduled for substantial completion on August 3, but Henschen said there’s still a lot of work to do. “Time is running near, right? Thieneman recognizes they maybe didn’t jump on this project as soon as they could have. They had asked for about a 40-day time extension with these changes.”

But Henschen said the grant administrator wanted to wait a month before officially requesting an extension from OCRA, in part, to make sure they’d only have to ask once.