Faced with the demands of a major engineering project, the Payson council awarded the local engineering firm Tetra Tech a $10,000-a-week contract to keep tabs on the contractors building the Blue Ridge pipeline.
Tetra Tech came up with the designs and specifications for preliminary work on the $34 million pipeline, which will run from Washington Park and Mesa del Caballo, so the firm has the expertise to keep the contractors on track, the town concluded.
The town has already awarded three contracts totaling $1.1 million to install several miles of new water mains in town that can accommodate the addition of 3,000 acre-feet to the town’s water system from the Blue Ridge pipeline, starting in about 2014.
Tetra Tech prepared the engineering specifications and estimates for that project. The low bid came in some $900,000 below Tetra Tech’s estimate.
The town put a $243,000 limit on the latest, supervision contract, on the assumption that the pipeline construction project will last for about 180 days.
The contract will cover oversight for the $1.1 million worth of water mains in town, which amounts to a little more than 20 percent of the cost of the contracts supervised.
Public Works Director LaRon Garrett wrote in a memo to the council that “the public works department does not have adequate staff to provide the necessary field representation needed on these new projects and still perform their normal duties.
Tetra Tech was selected for this phase of the project because they are the firm that designed these water lines and are intimately familiar with how they need to be constructed.”
The town’s public works department has shrunk since the onset of the recession, after the state diverted so much of the gas tax money it used to share with the towns that funding for all major street projects dried up.
The town has barely maintained streets in the past three years and canceled several major projects, including rebuilding Bonita Street.
Moreover, building has all but stopped in the past three years. The number of houses approved dropped from an average of about 250 annually before the recession to more like 25 a year since.
The town is now seeking bids on other phases of the Blue Ridge work, including the major task of putting underground about 16 miles of 36-inch-diameter pipe alongside Houston Mesa Road. The water line will have to cross the East Verde River at least three times. This will require crews to divert the stream, bury half the pipe then shift the stream back to the buried side to complete the underground crossing.
The project will also include construction of a $7.5 million water treatment plant, which will filter algae and silt out of the pure snowmelt and rainwater pumped out of the Blue Ridge Reservoir atop the Mogollon Rim.