Platte City's sewer extension project headed forward despite increased cost

The City of Platte City intends to start work soon on a sewer project considered vital to economic development despite a recent surprise on cost estimates received during the bid process.On Tuesday, June 2, the Platte City Board of Aldermen’s public works subcommittee voted to recommend awarding a contract of more than $1 million to M Con of Wathena, Kan. to construct the sanitary sewer system lift station and force main that will connect currently undeveloped land on the east side of Interstate 29 to existing infrastructure on the other side. The work will take place near the intersection with HH Highway. Total cost will be $1,139.450 — about $360,000 more than the engineer’s estimate — and will require a budget amendment appropriating $414,000 in additional funds to the project.

“Normally, stuff works pretty smoothly,” Platte City city administrator DJ Gehrt said. “We have an engineer’s estimate. The engineer’s estimate is pretty close. Bids come in and it’s really not much of a brainer. However, this one is not like that.”

M Con submitted the low bid out of two, but both were within about $6,000 of each other. The increase in project cost stems from analysis of what type of work will be required to bore a single 18-inch diameter, 715-foot hole underneath I-29 from the land on the east to the existing gravity sewer line located near Apple Market on Branch Street. According to the experts, the length, size, angle and rocky soil involved in the bore combine to significantly increase the bid price.

That leaves the city with the option to conduct more reviews of the land and rebid the project, assuming a more cost-effective route is found, or reduce the scope of the project. The other alternatives are to cancel the project all together or approve the existing project.

At the recommendation of Gehrt, the subcommittee opted for a combination of two choices: try to reduce the scope slightly while also awarding the contract and amending the budget.

“We can accept the fact that this is what this project is in today’s market,” Gehrt said. “If this, east side development, is our primary, strategic goal for the city, we need to get that started.”

City officials still consider economic development on the land located east of I-29, which makes up about 40 percent of Platte City’s total area, a vital goal. Gehrt noted to the subcommittee members that he believes moving forward will help upkeep momentum for the project while still remaining cost effective.

In June of 2014, Platte City purchased a 40-acre parcel of land at Exit 19 off of I-29 in an attempt to help spur the wanted development. The land was then sold to the Platte City Industrial Development Authority (PCIDA) for $2.1 million by the end of the year, helping accrue $250,000 in funds as security for the property and another $525,000 being held by the trustee that can only be used to reimburse the city for sanitary sewer improvements, which the current project would do.

The city must make the sewer improvements as part of its bond supported lease-purchase agreement with the PCIDA.

With board approval at its full meeting later this month, the $525,000 along with a transfer of $614,450 from the Wastewater Capital Improvement Fund (CIP) would be used to pay for the construction. That would still leave more than $1.5 million balance in the CIP at the end of the 2015 Fiscal Year.

The board recently approved a contract partnership with R.H. Johnson Company, which touts itself as Kansas City’s market leader in retail real estate service, to promote development of the city land and about 260 acres the Laderoute family owns to the east and stretching south toward Highway 92.

The sewer project could be completed by the end of the construction season, and building on the land could begin at any point after its finished.

Planning would include a public component, allowing citizens to give input on what sort of development would take place and where on the nearly 300 acres. This all fits in with a likely larger project to include approximately 1,400 more acres located further east and down to the northern edge of Highway 92.

Indications are that retail, business and residential would all have a place in the final plan.