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Board OKs city sewer-upgrade contracts

FORT WAYNE – Board of Public Works members on Wednesday approved some of the final pieces of a $35 million expansion project at the city’s sewage treatment plant.

Earlier this month, the board approved more than $30 million worth of construction and design contracts for the project; those got final approval from the City Council on Tuesday. Wednesday’s action moves forward $2.8 million in contracts for management of the 2 1/2-year project, including a $2.2 million construction management contract with CH2M Hill.

Officials said the project management is needed because of the size and scope of the work – it is one of the largest single public works projects the city has ever performed – and because it all has to be done without interrupting the 24/7 operation of the plant.

The bulk of the work will be upgrades to three of the plant’s six digesters, where bacteria attack the biological matter in the sewage, converting it to suspended solids that can be settled out. Other parts of the project will affect almost every process in the plant, and overall will increase the plant’s capacity by 25 percent, to 85 million gallons a day – enough to fill 129 Olympic-sized pools.

Board members also approved a deal with CH2M Hill for management of a separate, but related, project on the north side of the Maumee River, across from the plant. For $899,294, CH2M Hill will oversee the work to increase the storage capacity of the plant.

During heavy rains, excess sewage will be pumped across the river and stored until the plant is back below capacity. Then it will be pumped out of holding ponds and back to the plant for treatment.

Both projects are required under a federal consent decree to reduce the amount of untreated sewage flowing into the city’s rivers, estimated at about 1 billion gallons a year.

In other business, the board approved an $83,100 addition to the contract with DLZ for the feasibility study of a grade separation on South Anthony Boulevard at the Norfolk-Southern railroad tracks near Wayne Trace. The addition will cover environmental and historic building studies, bring the total contract to $318,825 and extend the study by up to 18 months. Officials are studying whether an underpass or overpass and reworking of the intersection will solve traffic problems in the area.

Board members also approved an agreement with Indiana Michigan Power for the city’s seven emergency generators. In return for about $110,000 a year, I&M can have the generators turned on and reduce the amount of electricity the utility has to pump into the power grid. Using the generators for I&M last year cost the city about $5,500 in fuel and labor, officials said.