Sewer, force main project to cost Sherman $132k more than expected

Michael Hutchins
Herald Democrat
The Sherman City Council recently approved a $132,744 change order to its northwest sewer project amid supply production issues.

February's storms and the lingering impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic are increasing the price of a Sherman utility project. The new sewer infrastructure cost increased by by $132,744, bringing the total cost to $1.74 million.

The City Council approved the first change order for its ongoing northwest sewer and force main project.

A perfect storm of factors have impacted not only this project but construction across the country.

Logistical impacts have affected the cost of many supplies during the pandemic, and historic winter storms led to wide spread infrastructure damage across the state.

"This is a project where the contractor secured pricing from a pipe manufacturer back in May when they supplied the bid," Sherman Director of Engineering Wayne Lee said. "On July 28 the contractor received notice that the supplier was not going to be able to supply the pipe — not that he couldn't going to be able to supply it for the price given, but that he couldn't supply it period."

The sewer project spans more than 25,000 feet of pipeline that covers land near three of the four corners of the intersection of U.S. Highway 82 and State Highway 289.

Lee said the supplier sustained damages during the storms in February. While they initially expected the have to issues resolved quickly, they now are unable to fulfill the order. He noted that there has been significant volatility in the PVC industry in recent months and the timing of the bid was done in an attempt to capture some stability in pricing.

"Just in general the PVC industry has been having issues with supplies, materials and the manufacturing of pipe," he said.

The contractor was eventually able to find a new supplier, but at an increased cost than initially anticipated. Despite this, city staff said the project is still nearly $200,000 less than the next lowest bidder.

Despite this, some members of the council voiced their disbelief that the scale of the increase.

"I find it hard to believe that it is that much more expensive," Council Member Sandra Melton said.

City staff noted that the increase was in part due to the sheer size of the project and that even small increases in cost in supplies can have a drastic impact when you are dealing with 10s of thousands of feet of pipeline.

Council Member Willie Steele said he understands the reasoning for the change order and that it is an issue that extends well beyond Sherman. The city is lucky in that it has the resources needed to overcome a hurdle like this.

 When put to a vote, the change order was approved five to one.