By Martin J. Kidston
With funds in place and the engineering contract complete, the First Street Water Main Replacement Project has moved one step closer to reality.
At Tuesday nights city council meeting, Annmarie Robinson of Bear Paw Development announced that Gaston Engineering out of Bozeman had been awarded the job of studying the replacement project before it goes to bid. Robinson said seven engineering firms applied for the study and three received an interview.
Robinson said the engineering contract will be paid for with funds from the Treasure State Endowment Program. The TSEP program stipulates that the city must secure an hourly rate with a not-to-exceed charge attached to the contract. That stipulation was met, and the contract was approved by the city council, with Mayor Leonard given the power to sign it.
With more than $194,000 allocated for the engineering study, Robinson said that Gaston Engineering will send a geological technician to the project site to collect soil samples and study possible alternative routes for the rotting water main.
Their geo-tech will evaluate the benefits of changing the route of our main service line, Robinson said. He should be gathering that information soon, and something should be presented to the council by October 4.
Once the findings are reviewed by the council, Robinson said ,they will go to the Department of Environmental Quality for further application. Project bidding would then follow the DEQs assessment, which should, Robinson believes, be completed by March.
The 16-inch water main runs under First Street, extending from the water treatment plant to Seventh Avenue where it joins several distribution lines that feed the city along the way. Since 1985, however, the main line has suffered 18 major breaks, each of which disrupted water service within the city.
According to the citys Strategic Plan, considerations are being made to relocating the main line to Second Street to avoid sub-surface problems, and to provide a back-up line in case of future breaks. Gaston Engineering will determine the benefits and pitfalls of the plan.
The estimated cost of the actual Main Line Replacement Project has been set at $1.38 million. It will be paid for with a combination of grant funding and revenue bonds. The Strategic Plan estimates a water rate increase of $1 per user per month.