By Paul Myers @PaulM_SGN
FARMERSVILLE – Infrastructure projects often carry surprises. Whether it be user error or circumstantial difficulties, there is almost always some unforeseen obstacle that delays the completion date or drives up the cost of the project. And the City of Farmersville is learning that firsthand when it comes to their new water meter project.
West Valley Construction, the company installing the meters, originally bid the project for $642,878, which is what the City budgeted for. After running into multiple difficulties, their revised bid as of last month was $1,106,967. Quad Knopf Engineering estimates the project with all of its difficulties should be $875,550 or 963,550 which includes a 10% contingency, but still leaves the City $143,417 short of what was originally budgeted for.
“[West Valley] knew they would run into some difficulties, but as they were moving into the project they were seeing much more than was anticipated,” Farmersville city manager John Jansons said.
Jansons said that crews were experiencing aging infrastructure that could predate the 1940s when Farmersville was a community services district.
“Some of the pipes in the ground are more than 80 years old, which is pretty darn old,” Jansons said.
He added that if left along the pipes work fine, but when they are pulled up or jostled when meters are being installed they tend to break. Other obstacles have been finding the meters at all. Jansons said that some meters are so deep underground that the radio signal on the new smart meter would not be read if they just replaced it. As a result crews have to life the meters above ground which is more labor intensive.
According to a Quad Knopf memo, the engineering firm will research if there is any way to recover some of the cost through additional grant funds. Also they will seek out any other significant savings including whether it would be more cost efficient for the City to order water meter boxes directly.