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Toll road utility projects to go to bid in January

Plans are moving ahead for a new wastewater treatment plant to be built in northern LaGrange County to service the Indiana Toll Road Service Plaza and, eventually, Cedar Lake.

The LaGrange County Regional Utility District approved engineers’ requests to authorize the bidding of the project, pending approval of the specifications for the system, which is still being designed. Bids would be submitted beginning in January, and opened at the February 17 district board meeting.

The board was told that should state funding through grants and loans not be sufficient to make the project viable, the board could reject all bids.

The board also approved an agreement with the toll road that sees the toll road commit to the costs of bidding out the water system. The water system will need to be in place prior to the reopening of the service plaza, which is targeted for July 2017.

The agreement provides for work to “proceed rapidly,” Board President Patrick Wiltshire said, and will cover the costs incurred between now and when the loan closes. The agreement caps the costs at $250,000.

The board was told that there would be three separate closings for financing to go through. One each for the water system, the sewer service to the rest plaza, and the Cedar Lake system. “They (state revolving fund) have committed verbally to grant money to make it viable,” Engineer Steve Henschen told the board.

In other business:

The board heard a report on a master plan for Regions B and D, which serve Fish and Stone lakes, respectively.

Engineers looked at the current state of the systems, two of the older systems in the district, and laid out a replacement and maintenance plan for the next 20 years. The report identified needs based on how soon they needed to be addressed: immediately, 5-10 years out, 10-15 years out, and 15-20 years out.

One issue the report identified was the potential for energy savings at the Region B treatment plant, noting that the plant is running at less than 30 percent of its designed load capacity. The district could see energy savings in that service area by streamlining the process and updated the electronics, the engineers said.

Both regions are unlikely to see much growth, the report noted, with around 115 new connections in Region B and less than 50 new connects expected in Region D over the next 20 years.

The report outlined a schedule to replace aging equipment and electronics in the most efficient manner, including work on lift stations, concrete liners, and electronics.

A rough estimate of costs showed around $2.2 million in work considered to be an immediate need, and an additional $2 million for the short-term needs over the next five years. In all, the 20-year plan laid out by the report would run around $8.6 million in current dollars. Adjusted for inflation, the estimated cost over 20 years is around $11.6 million.