County to pre-qualify contractors for Tired Creek dam

Grady County is putting out a call for qualified contractors to construct the Tired Creek Lake following Tuesday night’s county commission meeting.
For nearly an hour and a half Tuesday the board met with consultants on the lake including Chuck Wilson and Bradley Boyer of Schnabel Engineering, the designers of the dam, as well as attorney Laura Benz of Wm. Thomas Craig’s office and Dave Malcolm and Charlie Johnson, of Wood & Partners, the land planners who developed the master lake development plan.
Most of the discussion centered around the process for putting the dam construction out for bid on the 42 foot high, half mile wide dam that will impound the 960-acre lake.
An important step, according to Schnabel officials, is the prequalifying of interested bidders.
A court ruling issued Monday, see related story in this issue, and a pending decision in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals does not prohibit the county from proceeding with the prequalification of contractors, according to County Attorney Kevin S. Cauley.
Chuck Wilson, of Schnabel, also said the county can move forward in soliciting bids even though the final approval from the Georgia safe dams program has not been received.
“We’ve done this before where we put a project out to bid while waiting on the final stamp of approval from the safe dams program,” Wilson said.
The senior Schnabel official also said the prequalification process is critical to a successful project.
“You don’t want anyone working on this project that really doesn’t know what they are doing,” Wilson said.
Commissioners also expressed their desire for local individuals to have the opportunity to be a part of what is surely the single largest county public works project in the county’s history.
Wilson said it would also be important to make arrangements for bidders to visit the site before submitting bids.
Cauley agreed to work with Schnabel in coordinating site visits as well as wording bid documents and contracts to show preference for local companies being a part of the construction project.
“We want as many local people as possible to get a piece of this project,” Commissioner Charles Norton said.
Wilson said he is anticipating a 60-day period to advertise for and receive bids prior to a bid opening. Once bids are opened Schnabel will need approximately two weeks to review the bids to insure they meet all specs before recommending awarding a contract.
Some of the requirements Schnabel is recommending are experience building at least three big dams in the last 10 years and having worked in the southeast United States.
Wilson said there are four major aspects to the dam construction: earthwork; concrete work; subsurface drains; and installation of the slurry wall.
He noted that contractors experienced with slurry walls, that will prevent seepage underneath the dam, are highly specialized and he said there are very few contractors in the country that do this work.
The engineers are calling for final approval in 490 days with provisions for delay days caused by excessive rain.
Commissioners also discussed the fill time once the dam is completed. The Schnabel engineers said the water must be impounded in stages with the first nine feet being unrestricted; the middle third up the dam at a rate of two feet a week; and the remaining third at a rate of one foot a week.
The absolute fastest the lake could fill would be 13 weeks, but it could take up to three years to reach full pool, according to the engineers.
Contractors interested in bidding on the project will be charged $500 for a set of plans along with an electronic copy and CAD drawings used in the design plan.
“We want to give contractors as much information as we can in order to get the best prices,”Wilson said.
Based on their plans and design, the dam will settle approximately two feet so the embankment will be constructed taller to account for that settling. Also, Boyer told commissioners the soil for the spillways will be stockpiled and allowed to settle prior to the building of the spillway structures.
After discussing the process with the engineers, the board voted unanimously to authorize Schnabel to begin the process of qualifying the contractors. Once that is done the board will act to put the project out for bid.
Commissioners also discussed the need for the associates from Wood & Partners to update the project timeline and make cash flow projections based on the new time line.
Cauley said work on the wetlands mitigation is set to begin very soon with the solicitation of fencing to take place within weeks.
The county attorney recommended the board authorize additional work by Wood & Partners to prevent any “surprises” with regards to cash flow and the financing of the lake project.
Commissioner T.D David described Malcolm and Johnson as the board’s “eyes and ears” on the project and made the motion authorizing the consultants to proceed with updating the timeline and expense reports.
The county attorney also recommended the county consider contracting with Schnabel to manage the construction of the project and investigate the cost of that option.
Commissioners met briefly behind closed doors with Cauley and attorney Benz to discuss pending litigation regarding the lake project. No action was taken regarding the lake following the closed session.

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