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Alley bids overshoot estimates in Ford City

| Wednesday, May 28, 2014, 1:26 a.m.

Estimates for Ford City's alley reconstruction exceed the $75,000 anticipated for the project, but the borough will get additional help with the costs.

The project, which will repair nine alleys in the central business district, came in with a price tag of about $92,000, according to Carmen Johnson, assistant director of Armstrong County's planning and development department.

The county had allocated $61,670 of federal Community Development Block Grant money for Ford City's Central Business District Alley Reconstruction Project.

Council is expected to award a contract in June.

After that, the project will move to Armstrong County Commissioners for approval.

Johnson told council on Tuesday that block grant funding will provide an additional $17,000 to bridge the funding gap.

Ford City will kick in close to $14,000 of its state liquid fuels money to cover engineering costs, change orders and a small amount of the construction.

The borough contribution was part of the original plan.

Before the project moves ahead, an engineer must review the proposal.

Johnson urged officials to act quickly so construction can get started before summer's end.

“I really don't want to rebid the project for this year because it would have timeliness issues,” she said.

Borough council — which is without an engineer — decided to bring in a firm from another large-scale borough project to complete the review in an effort to move quickly and take advantage of the additional funding.

“If they're kicking in an extra $17,000, I don't want to lose it,” Councilman Josh Abernathy said.

Council voted 5-0 in favor of hiring Latrobe-based Gibson-Thomas Engineering for the review.

They stipulated the cost not exceed the $5,000 originally budgeted.

Councilman Scott Gaiser was absent.

Gibson-Thomas was hired at the end of April to deal with compliance issues with the borough's beleaguered water plant.

Ford City faces heavy fines from the Department of Environmental Protection for problems there.

While Councilman Jerry Miklos indicated the borough may hire someone to replace fired borough engineer Jim Garvin as soon as June 9, officials agreed working with Gibson-Thomas would expedite the review of the alley project.

Additional alleys considered

Officials have their eye on other paving projects.

Tyson Klukan of the Ford City Planning Commission presented council with a proposal to leverage additional liquid fuels money toward street repairs this year.

“Through liquid fuels funds and grants, we can replace these deplorable roadways,” he said.

The planning commission's review looked at the conditions of alleys between 12th and 17th streets.

The project would work on a large section of adjacent streets in an effort to save money on project costs.

Klukan said planners looked at the alleys most in need of repair.

Turning over some of the work to planning commission members, he said, would allow council to focus on large projects such as the Central Business District alleys and the water plant's compliance issues.

“We will be willing to step up and oversee these projects,” Klukan said.

“Then, of course, council will have the final say.”

Julie E. Martin is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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