City Commission approves contract process for lift station project

City Commissioners voted in April to authorize the city manger to execute documents for a general contractor construction management contract.

City staff are using the alternative project delivery method of general contractor construction management for a pump station and force main project.

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The existing Lift Station No. 1 force main was built in 1979 and is the only river crossing for that section of the city’s sewer system.

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The lift station services the original downtown, east to and including Malmstrom Air Force Base and Agri-Tech Industrial Park and south to 10th Avenue South.

The station pumps about 40 percent of the city’s sewage across the Missouri River to the wastewater treatment plant through the station’s force main.

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The existing force main was built under emergency conditions in response to a failure of the 1959-installed crossing. That failure resulted in a “protracted, direct and uncontrolled discharge of untreated sewage to the Missouri River,” according to the staff report.

The project will construct a redundant force main to provide “resilience and reliability in this segment of city critical infrastructure; whereby, helping the city minimize/prevent the risk of service interruption, regulatory exposure and environmental damage associated with having a single point of failure,” according to the staff report.

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The project will implement recommendations from a June 2021 feasibility study, including the installation of the redundant force main across the river to the wastewater treatment plant and improvements to the lift station, as well as provide connections to the pumping station and head works at the wastewater treatment plant.

Services under the contract would include: conducting geotechnical evaluations; verifying utility conflicts; floodplain analysis; permitting; producing the engineering drawings and specifications; and obtaining approval from local and state review agencies, according to the staff report.

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Typically, the city uses the design bid build method of designing the project, developing construction bidding documents, publicly advertising, then bidding the project and selecting the lowest responsible bidder.

But Montana law allows for alternative project delivery methods for complex projects under certain criteria, which city staff have determined are met in this case.

The general contractor construction management process includes phases of preconstruction and construction, according to staff.

During the April 4 meeting, commissioners voted to approve the general contractor construction management process.

Commissioner Rick Tryon asked if it was the first time the city had used this option.

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Commissioners voted in January 2022 to approve the same type of agreement. Tryon attended that meeting telephonically and moved to approve the use of a general contractor construction manager.

The projected budget for the project is $7.8 million.

It’s being funded with $2 million of competitive grant ARPA funds through the state, another $3.85 million through the minimum allocation grant through ARPA, and remaining $1.945 million through the city’s sanitary sewer utility funds.

The project was selected and prioritized in the city’s public works capital improvement program.

Earlier this year, the city received $8,431,368 in minimum allocation grants from the state for eligible wastewater, stormwater and drinking water infrastructure expenses through the state’s American Rescue Plan Act funds.

The state had previously budgeted the funds for municipalities and the City of Great Falls had been budgeted for $8.5 million but had to submit a list of eligible expenses for final approval, according to Tom Hazen, the city’s grant administrator.

The city decided to use the funding toward projects already in the works and as reimbursement for other project expenditures since ARPA lets the city claim expenses that were booked after March 2021.

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Hazen said city officials not to use all of the funding toward future projects since they’d be subject to inflation and the dollar might not go as far, they decided on reimbursement since those funds would no longer be subject to the federal timelines and rules for ARPA funds, freeing them up for more projects.