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Paris City Council to pick an engineering firm tonight for 10-year, $50 million repair and replacement of city's aging infrastructure

By CHARLES RICHARDS

eParisExtra.com

The Paris City Council is poised to address the city’s aging infrastructure in a significant way tonight by putting into place a 10-year, $50 million commitment to fix the problem.

Three engineering firms – one a very large, national firm; one a medium-size regional firm; and one a small local company – came before the council on Oct. 15 to say how they would plan the project.

Tonight, the council is expected to hand one of them the job.

Whichever one is selected will be under a mandate to hit the ground running.

Mayor AJ Hashmi

It is understood by all three companies that the first phase of what they want to do for a 10-year plan will need to be done by the end of December,” Mayor AJ Hashmi told eParisExtra on Sunday.

“They are to tell us, ‘Here’s what we want to do in 2013.’ And in the remainder of next year, they will complete the plan for the remaining nine years,” he said.

City manager John Godwin said three firms of different sizes and structure were intentionally identified to present proposals to the council on a 10-year plan to repair the infrastructure.

“I believe any of the three firms is capable of completing the work, and doing so quite well,” Godwin said in a memo to the council.

Without making a recommendation, the city manager gave his opinion of significant differences in the approach that would be taken by Freese & Nichols, the large national firm, which is based in Fort Worth; by the medium-sized regional KSA, which is based in Longview; and by Hayter Engineering, whose offices are in Paris.

“Freese and Nichols would likely be the slowest, with the longest learning curve and the highest costs. They have suggested they can complete the work in about 12 months, working out of their Fort Worth office,” Godwin said.

“KSA would have somewhat less of a learning curve, and they have suggested using three different offices (Longview, Tyler and Austin) simultaneously so as to reduce the overall project timeline to about six months from the expected twelve,” the manager said.

“Hayter has the clear advantage of knowing the city and our staff quite well, so would initially be able to move much faster with less duplication. They have a noticeably smaller staff of their own, however, so would perhaps be slower as the project moved forward, and they have less experience at this type and size project.”

None of the three has said what it would charge for the comprehensive 10-year plan, which would include replacing hundreds of miles of water and sewer lines, streets and sidewalks, and drainage improvements.

“As an engineer, you’re prohibited from basing the contract on a price,” the city manager said.

“The council will pick one, and I’ll negotiate a contract. If for some reason we can’t reach an agreement, then we’ll go to the second choice. But I don’t think that will be a problem. I’ve worked with two of them before, and the city has worked with Hayter before,” Godwin said.

The council has already set aside about $5 million – mostly out of the city’s reserves — for work to be done in the first year.

The council agreed earlier in the year to appoint a citizens’ council comprised of seven members, one from each council district, to work with city staff and with the engineering firm to decide which proposed projects should have the highest priority.

“We have 326 miles of roads in the city, and not every road needs to be redone and not every segment of pipe needs to be redone. We will start where there is the most need, and that is where the committee will come in. They will confer with the city staff, and they will confer with members of the community so that no one feels left out of it,” the mayor said.

Because the committee’s input will be needed very quickly, Hashmi said, he will ask each council member to make their selections tonight regarding who will represent their district on the panel.

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