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Commissioners OK landfill expansion

July 30, 2004|by JULIE E. GREENE

julieg@herald-mail.com

The Washington County Commissioners approved the low bidder's contract Thursday for a new cell to be built at the Forty West Landfill, but what's not known is whether the new cell will be open before the current one is filled.

The $5.2 million contract with C. William Hetzer Inc. that was approved with a 5-0 vote should have the first half of the third cell open by June 1, 2005, Chief Engineer Terry McGee said. The third cell is on a 14.6-acre site.

The contract includes incentives for the contractor to get that part of the job done before June 1. The contractor would get a $5,000-a-day incentive, for up to 30 days, if the job is finished earlier, McGee said.

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In a worst-case scenario, McGee said the landfill's second cell could be filled in April. The best-case scenario has the cell lasting until next June or July.

If the second cell is filled before the third cell is ready, McGee said the county will have to export trash.

The second cell opened in December 2002 with a projected life expectancy of three to four years, but will last maybe 21/2 years, McGee said.

The third cell originally was to open in January 2005.

County officials sought new bids for the project after the commissioners voted in June to reject the only bid they received because it was for $10.4 million. McGee's cost estimate was $4.85 million.

The county received seven bids this time with some more reasonable numbers after discussions with contractors, McGee said.

The county broke the cell project into two parts, provided incentives to get the job done early and gave contractors more time, including more time during typically good-weather months, McGee said.

The early forecast was for the 14-cell landfill west of Huyetts Crossroads to last 80 years, McGee said. The last forecast was for 60 years, but county officials are trying to re-estimate the landfill's longevity because the flow of trash has increased.

Under the contract, the second half of the third cell is to be ready by Oct. 5, 2005. To cover the $678,067 budget shortfall for the third cell, county officials will use general obligation bonds and Maryland Water Quality bonds, the latter of which have an estimated 1.5 percent interest rate, said Debra Bastian, director of budget and finance. With the trash flow up, McGee said his staff will start the design work for the fourth cell within six months and could make a presentation to the commissioners in early 2005.

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