The Van Wert County Engineer’s offices on Market Street have been in use for decades and are beginning to reveal their age. A proposed plan would consolidate three County Engineer facilities onto a location on Grill Road. (TB file photo)
VAN WERT - The Van Wert County Engineering Department is moving forward with a plan to consolidate to one facility and told the commissioners on Tuesday the estimated cost is now nearly 30 percent less than previously anticipated.
County Engineer Kyle Wendel gave an overview of the status of the project to Van Wert County Commissioners Thad Lichtensteiger and Stan Owens yesterday afternoon. The proposed project, which includes the construction of a new administration facility and a heated garage building, would bring together all of the engineer’s functions to one facility on Grill Road after years of maintaining three separate facilities in Van Wert. Wendel said his office had received estimates for two contracts, one which would include only the construction of the Administration Building and a second that would consist of the Administration Building and the shell of a heated garage.
Original estimates had an Administration Building and completed garage construction costs at approximately $3.8 million. However, Wendel and his department believe they can complete a great deal of the work themselves, mostly on finishing the concrete and other portions of the garage facility, saving the county roughly $1.1 million and bringing the initial cost down to just under $2.7 million without some alternate options.
The commissioners were impressed with the potential savings.
“Sounds like this is really coming together to cut some costs,” said Commissioner Owens.
Wendel agreed, admitting it was shocking how much the estimates had dropped with the change in the proposal, but that he also believed building the garage shell and performing much of the work within the department was the most efficient way to complete the project.
Bid requests for just the Administration Building construction and for the Administration and garage buildings combined will be released on January 23. A pre-bid meeting will be held on January 29 and bids will be received until February 12. Once the bids are opened, a final decision on how to proceed with the project will take place. Construction is expected to begin by March 17 and is expected to last for roughly 14 months.
Current plans call for local financing to be secured for a 20-year payback period. The engineer’s office will pay for funding the project with their portion of Motor Vehicle Gas Tax and Licensing Fees. There will also be a small share of payments originating within the Ditch Department. Wendel also pointed out that once the consolidation takes place, the county would be able to sell the other two existing facilities to reduce the financing even further.
Wendel told the commissioners the project has been discussed for several years and some parts of the consolidation have already taken place. However, there is more urgency now as the current offices on Market Street are more than a century old and are experiencing structural issues. Also, moving the West Main Street facility to Grill Road allows for more efficient operations, saving the county operating funds in the future.