When the Windber Area Authority sought bids in the spring for a major water transmission line project, members were hopeful construction costs would dip below their $7.2 million estimates.
But not by nearly $2 million.
That was the case this week as authority members reviewed low bids on work to replace eight miles of line bringing water from Ogle Township to all of the authority’s 9,500 customers.
And on the heels of the board’s first rate increase since 2000, the savings – more than 25 percent from initial estimates – is expected to reduce a planned 2013 rate hike to pay for the work, Authority Manager Dennis Mash said.
“There’s no doubt our ratepayers will benefit from this,” Mash said, noting next year’s planned increase was originally expected to be $5 more monthly for a customer using 3,000 gallons of water but now will likely be $2 or $3.
It’s a big break for a project that must happen, officials said.
The authority supplies water to customers in Windber, Paint borough and township, Scalp Level and a small area of Richland Township.
And water is supplied through a deteriorating 1920s-era pipeline that runs above ground most of the way from the authority’s Ogle Township water wells to the Windber-area treatment plant.
The total cost to replace those lines and extend a 17th Street line in Windber was originally tagged at $9 million but is now expected to run closer to $7 million, including engineering costs and other extras, Mash said.
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