By Shereen Siewert

Bids for a planned Wastewater Treatment facility came in higher than expected this week, with two contractors bidding on the project.

Wausau Public Works Director Eric Lindman said city engineers estimated the project at about $69.2 million, plus a $1.7 million forgivable loan. CD Smith and Miron Construction both submitted bids, with Miron’s $74.2 million bid the lowest of the two.

Lindman said he and other city officials are taking a detailed look at the bids, calling contractors and subcontractors to find out why the bids were higher than expected and determine if their prices are justified.

By contrast, Lindman said, all three base bids for the city’s proposed drinking water treatment facility came in under the engineer’s estimate of roughly $36.4 million.

“There, we had a favorable bidding environment,” Lindman said.

Miron Construction was also the lowest bidder for the drinking water treatment facility, at $31,036,434.23. That cost could go higher if city officials choose to add additional components under consideration.

Wausau aims to borrow funds in 2020 for the projects, which will allow the current facilities to meet new, stricter phosphorous and capacity requirements while improving safety, reliability and performance, officials said.

Lindman, in a 2019 statement, said the decision to move the existing facilities was based on a pilot study to determine the city’s best option moving forward. The plan calls for building a new drinking water treatment center, currently located on North River Drive south of Wausau Chemical, to the city’s northwest side. The wastewater treatment facility, constructed in the 1930s, will undergo an upgrade.

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Lindman said he is unsure whether the unexpected cost increase is due to the current construction climate with relation to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Both projects are up for discussion this week by members of the Wausau Water Works Commission. A meeting is set for 1:30 p.m. Thursday at City Hall, 407 Grant St., Wausau.

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