City waterline project costs set to go higher

M.P. Regan
Tuesday, September 20, 2022

The more things change, the more they remain incomplete and the more expensive they get when it comes to the City of Dillon’s long-rendering waterline replacement project.

The Dillon City Council tonight will be asked to okay another increase in the project’s cost through approval of a change order that will increase the overall cost to near $4.5 million.

If approved, Change Order #6 would add another $48,510 to the project, with those monies going toward seven items on the change order, including the replacement of “unsuitable backfill material” on Bannack Street, “unsuitable subgrade material” on Idaho Street, additional curb and gutter work on Bannack and Center streets, and “additional general conditions costs such as office rental and insurance for five-month time extension to contract” to cover “overhead” costs incurred by project contractor Mungas Co. including office rental, Internet service, project specific insurance.

“We believe the costs submitted are reasonable and representative of the work completed, and DOWL recommends approval and payment for these change order items,” wrote DOWL Engineering’s Kevin Johnston, who lists himself as “project manager” in a Sept. 9 letter to Mayor John McGinley.

Change Order #6 comes soon after Change Orders 1–5 put before the city council at a special meeting last month to add $368,082 onto the project’s cost.

The latest “final” bill for the project would total $4,449,371, according to Johnson’s calculations.

The costs of the project to the local economy also continue to add up, with many downtown businesses seeing only a fraction of their usual influx of customers over Labor Day Weekend. Traditionally a boon to Dillon businesses, Montana’s Biggest Weekend got largely detoured from downtown Dillon due to the waterline project leaving streets there incomplete and pocked with potential hazards to pedestrians.