Rehoboth receives bids for outfall project

Meeting with county set for July 26
July 22, 2017

Rehoboth Beach’s own game of “The Price Is Right” has led to a Seattle-based firm being the low bidder for the ocean work on the city’s $52.5 million ocean outfall project.

Manson Construction was the low bidder on the ocean work, which will include installing 3,000 feet of pipe into the ocean floor along with a diffuser, with a $27 million bid.

New Jersey-based contractor Weeks Marine offered a  $32 million bid while American Bridge of Pittsburgh offer a bid of $43 million. Because of the specialized nature of the work, the three prospective contractors had to be pre-approved before bidding.

Manson’s bid, as well as the bids of two other contractors for work related to the outfall, must be approved by the city commissioners, most likely at the commissioners’ Friday, Aug. 18 meeting.

Mayor Sam Cooper said the bids were higher than expected; he had anticipated bids being around $19 million.

“I think we’re paying a huge premium for doing this in the winter time,” he said. “The weather factors into it. Who knows what kind of winter it will be? I think it would have been considerably lower if we did it in fair weather.”

City officials have pegged Oct. 1 as the start date for the project, with the ocean work beginning Oct. 15. Cooper said work must be done in the winter for two reasons: regulatory issues regarding fish habitat in the area 6,000 feet off Deauville Beach where the outfall will end and because the main staging area for the ocean work is the Deauville Beach parking lot. 

Prior to the opening of the ocean work bid July 20, three bids for other work were opened with the total of the low bids totalling $9.7 million. Cooper said overall, these bids were about $500,000 more than anticipated.

The first set of bids was for upgrades to the city’s wastewater treatment plant and for the pump station that will be built on the plant site. The low bidder on both of those projects was Allan Myers Construction, based in Worcester, Pa. The plant upgrades had a total low bid of $2.2 million and the pump station bid was $1.7 million.

The third contract was for the force main pipe that will run from the treatment plant to the Deauville Beach parking lot. The low bidder was A-Del Construction of Newark with a bid of $5.7 million.

Cooper said the bids were right around what the city was expecting. He said the force main bid was more than anticipated because plans were updated to include the costs of repaving the roads that will be affected by the work. Henlopen Avenue will be the main road that will need to be repaved as the route will go down that street before getting to the Deauville Beach parking lot.

He said the plant upgrades were lower than expected, while the pump station bids were as expected. Part of the lower price of the plant upgrades is that the city pulled out some of the work to be performed immediately, such as installing new filtering technology and repairs to the buildings, following a discharge of brown effluent last year into the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal.

Unlike with the City Hall project, which only attracted two bidders, the four outfall-related contracts drew more competition. The ocean work had three bidders, as did the contract for the force main, The treatment plant upgrades had five bidders, while the pump station had six bidders.

Workshop meeting set for July 26

The city commissioners will hold a workshop meeting at 9:30 a.m., Wednesday, July 26, at the Rehoboth fire hall to hold a discussion with the city engineers and Sussex County officials on the path forward for the project.

Sussex County is a 40 percent stakeholder in the project, as Rehoboth treats wastewater from Dewey Beach, Henlopen Acres and North Shores. Cooper said he hopes to discuss the county’s role in the project, funding and the city’s contract with the county to treat wastewater from the other three jurisdictions. He said he hopes that the meeting will provide an overview of the project.

Cooper said this meeting was the kind of thing that should have happened with City Hall. The mayor drew fire for that project for the way it went over budget and what other commissioners have said is a lack of transparency. However, Cooper has said he intends to be the point person on the outfall project given his involvement with it since 1998.

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