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Costs rising for Schenectady wastewater infrastructure projects

Costs rising for Schenectady wastewater infrastructure projects

Costs rising for Schenectady wastewater infrastructure projects
Schenectady's wastewater treatment plant is shown Aug. 7, 2019.
Photographer: Marc Schultz

SCHENECTADY — Costs are ballooning for the city’s wastewater infrastructure improvement projects.

The City Council on Monday authorized the city’s Finance Department to issue two $8 million bonds for the city’s pump station and force main projects.

The city is also working on improvements to its wastewater treatment plant. The collective cost for all three projects is $50 million.

Contractors have been submitting higher-than-anticipated bids, said Commissioner of General Services Paul LaFond, and construction costs are soaring everywhere — not just in Schenectady. 

“I don’t foresee any more increases,” LaFond told lawmakers last week.

Lending agencies, including the state, want proof the city has committed to projects by having funding in place, he said.

“It shows the city’s commitment to this project,” LaFond said.

With the bond resolution approved, the city is now eligible to apply for additional grants and low-interest hardship loans designed to reduce the burden on local taxpayers.

The city, he said, will “pursue every avenue possible.”

The City Council last year approved an ordinance allowing the city to bond for $16 million to replace the antiquated pump station on North Ferry Street in the city’s Stockade neighborhood, and also received a $3 million state grant. 

Costs for that project, originally tagged at $7.5 million, are now projected to cost $20.5 million. 

The existing station, constructed in 1913, was damaged by Tropical Storm Irene in 2011 and is under a consent order from the state Department of Environmental Conservation requiring the city to elevate its mechanical components above the flood plain.

The new station will be constructed within 30 feet of the existing structure in order to reduce the project’s footprint.

The contractor has built in increased costs because of the site’s proximity to the Mohawk River and the existing structure. 

“There’s a cushion the contractor added on for liability being so close to the river and floodplain,” LaFond said.

The commissioner said he will ask for committee approval next week to approve the low bid for the project. 

If approved, he’s hoping for an early-October start date.

“The goal is still to have it done in one year,” he said.

The city’s force main project, which will replace a pressurized sewer pipe running from Front Street to the city’s wastewater treatment plant on Anthony Street, is ongoing.

Authorities will monitor the site for archeological finds throughout the duration of the project, LaFond said.

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