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Contract approved for GUC operations center project


A schematic is shown of the new operations center for the Greenville Utilities Commission.


By Ginger Livingston
The Daily Reflector

Friday, February 22, 2019

A nearly $42.6 million contract to build Greenville Utilities Commission’s new operations center will mainly use local subcontractors, keeping a significant percentage of the money within Pitt County, staff said.

GUC’s Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a $42,577,638 contract with Rocky Mount-based Barnhill Contracting Co. to construct three buildings, a fuel island, sanitary pump station, install roads on the site and do other work to prepare the location for additional buildings.

The new operations center will be on 82 acres located at the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard (U.S. 264 Bypass) and N.C. 43 West.

“This has been a long time coming,” said Tony Cannon, GUC general manager/CEO. The organization began discussions about moving the operations center from its current location on Mumford Road in late 1999 after flooding following Hurricane Floyd damaged buildings and equipment.

World began in earnest in 2014 with the search for a suitable site.

Development of the site will be done in phases. Once the first phase of construction is completed, facilities for engineering, crews, the dispatch and call centers, equipment and supplies storage and shops for the utility crews will be moved.

Site work will begin in March and building construction will being in July or August, said Chris Padgett, GUC chief administrative officer. The project should be completed by December 2020, he said.

The bids came in at $36,602,088, Padgett said. The contract also pays Barnhill $5,320,648 for costs and fees. The contact also includes slightly more than $1 million in contingency funds.

Padgett said out of the $36.6 million package, $24.9 million went to first-tier subcontractors located in Pitt County. That is 68 percent of the money, he said. First-tier subcontractors are businesses that will work directly with Barnhill to provide supplies and services. Padgett said another $6.5 million when to subcontractors located in Wilson, Goldsboro and Kinstson, keeping a total of 86 percent of the money in eastern North Carolina.

Barnhill is serving as a construction manager at risk, a licensed general contractor who guarantees to deliver a construction project for a set price. Barnhill worked with a committee from GUC to prepare bid packages and review the subcontractor bids that were submitted.

GUC set a $53.3 million budget for the project last year. Along with the $42.6 million for construction, about $5.4 million has been spent on designing and pre-construction work. GUC also will spent nearly $1.4 million on site work that is not being done by Barnhill and nearly $3.3 million on furnishings and equipment when the new facilities open, Padgett said.

GUC has a $1.4 million contingency fund in case additional money is needed for site work preparation. If enough money is left in the contingency fund, and from possible savings in other construction costs, GUC will build one, perhaps two, covered equipment shelters on the site. The shelters were part of the original design but were removed to keep the project within its budgeted amount.

GUC had planned to start site work on the location last year. When the bid came in about $4 million above estimates, it was decided the work would be delayed until Barnhill could get a complete bid package.

The volatility in the cost of construction materials, along with contractors and subcontractors working on a number of local large construction project, GUC and Barnhill had to rework work the operations center design by postponing the construction of some buildings and using less brick on the exterior of other buildings.

Along with approving the Barnhill contract, the GUC board unanimously approved a resolution for the issuance of up to $90 million in revenue bonds for 16 construction projects.

GUC has $223 million in project needs. The $90 million will go to funding the first $118 million in project. The remaining funding will come from cash on hand, Cannon said.

A second revenue bond will be issued in either 2021 or 2022.

Seventy percent of the money will go to three projects: $43.3 million for the operations center, which has a total price tag of $53.3 million; $6 million to purchase peak generators for Vidant Medical center, that is the entire purchase amount; and $10 million for upgrading the water treatment plant, a project with an estimated $47.5 million cost.

The projects being funded through the bond are $3.675 million to renovate and improve security at GUC’s downtown office, $2.5 million for improvements to the wastewater treatment plant, a total of $5.1 million to build a substation and install a transmission line at Sugg Parkway.

The Greenville City Council is scheduled to approve the issuance at its March 11 meeting.

The project must then be approved by the Local Government Commission and go through other steps before the bond sale is completed in early June.

Contact Ginger Livingston at glivingston@reflector.com or 252-329-9570.