Meadville Area Water Authority unanimously approved on Wednesday a change to a planned waterline replacement project on Bessemer Street which will see the cost of the work increase by a little over $10,000.

The change will see the new line installed near the railroad along Bessemer Street, rather than running through the property of the Economic Progress Alliance of Crawford County as was originally planned. Consulting engineer Thomas Thompson said the change was made at the request of the Economic Progress Alliance, as the group did not want the line to interfere with potential future development on the property.

The alteration will increase the length of the line by about 300 feet, according to Thompson, and will involve the purchase of four new fittings for the project. Safety and silt fences will be put up as well as additional flagging as the work takes place. This adds up to $10,745.71 more for the project, bringing the total cost to $123,500.71.

The money for the new waterline stems from a $3.1 million loan MAWA took out from the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority last year. The money is also being used for numerous other projects which will see a total of 5,000 feet of waterlines and nine valves replaced.

MAWA hired the services of the Chivers Construction Co. and Pollard Land Services for the Bessemer Street work, though the alteration only deals with the Chivers' section of the work. The Pollard section of the project had a separate contract to the tune of $400,000.

The waterline under Bessemer is "in very poor quality," Thompson said, necessitating the new line. The original waterline will not be removed but will not longer see use, according to Thompson.

No change is expected in the timeline for the Bessemer project as a result of the alteration. The work will begin in late January and will finish in February. The entire $3.1 million replacement project is expected to take three years, Thompson said.

In other news from MAWA's monthly meeting on Wednesday, Project Manager Robert Harrington reported there was a "considerable" decrease in the number of water main breaks in MAWA's jurisdiction during 2019 compared to the previous year. Specifically, there were 26 breaks in 2019, while 2018 saw 46 breaks in total.

While Harrington noted that system pressure in MAWA's waterlines was decreased last year, he said any number of factors could explain the larger number of breaks in 2018. Such factors include the age of the pipes and more stable earth around the lines.

Sean P. Ray can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at sray@meadvilletribune.com.

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