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Bids opened on 2nd phase of downtown revitalization

| Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2002

Washington officials opened bids Monday that will keep the city on — or possibly ahead — of schedule for the second phase of a downtown revitalization.

The city is putting utility lines underground, installing new sewers and fiber optic cable, rebuilding sidewalks and installing new street and traffic lights and trees as part of the $14 million project.

Low bids for the second phase came in at $7.5 million, which was below the $8.4 million estimate, Richard Cleveland of the authority said. Still, he said, unexpected costs may eat into most of the difference after construction on the second, and final, phase begins in April.

"Based on these kinds of projects, we are finding all kinds of stuff from old foundations, trolley tracks and old coal chutes — many things which we will find unexpectedly," he said.

The $4 million first phase began this year. Now, only paving on Beau and Chestnut streets remains to be done in that phase, and it should be complete in April.

Cleveland said work on Main Street, between Railroad and Walnut streets, could be completed by the end of next year.

Walnut between Main and Highland also could see revitalization work in 2003.

Other segments of the second phase will affect Maiden and Wheeling streets, in 2004, and Cherry Alley, from College to Brownson streets, in 2005.

City council voted 4-1 yesterday to allow EG&G Engineering and PennDOT to select contractors to recommend from the bids opened yesterday. Councilman Bob Nicolella cast the dissenting vote.

Cleveland expects the engineering firm to make its recommendation to the authority in March, and the authority then will submit the recommendations to PennDOT District 12 in Uniontown.

Cleveland hopes contracts can be awarded in March and that work can begin shortly thereafter.

Frank J. Zottola Construction Inc. of Valencia appeared to submit the lowest of seven bids for general construction, at $4.41 million. Zavala Inc. of Pittsburgh had the apparent low bid for electrical work, at $2.89 million.

A $7 million PennDOT transportation enhancement grant will pay for most of the second phase. Money for the $14 million project is coming from 12 sources, including a $1.2 million tax assessed on downtown businesses for capital improvements, and a $4 million bond issue floated by the city. That bond, Cleveland said, is being repaid through federal Community Development Block Grant money.

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