STEUBENVILLE - Changes to the runway extension project at the Jefferson County Airport were discussed by the Jefferson County commissioners during Thursday's meeting.
In a letter to commissioners from the Jefferson County Airport Authority board, the board recommended commissioners reject bids for two phases of the planned project, including rejecting the electrical and paving portions of extending Runway 14-32. The letter, sent by board Secretary Gary Folden, also recommended commissioners accept a bid of $747,975 from Cast and Baker of Canonsburg, Pa., for the earth-moving portion of the project.
The project to extend the runway to 5,000 feet ran into a snag when the Federal Aviation Administration recently notified the county the project couldn't proceed without the runway also being widened from the present 60 feet to 75 feet.
DISCUSS PROJECT — Jefferson County Commissioners, from left, Tom Gentile, Tom Graham and Dave Maple, discuss pending issues during Thursday’s meeting, including changes to a runway extension project at the Jefferson County Airpark and the county’s health care fund. — Mark J. Miller
At their June 20 meeting, commissioners said project specifications for different aspects of the extension had already been bid and low bidders identified for the project with no widening of the runway in mind.
The longer runway will allow larger planes and corporate jets to land at the airport.
During Tuesday's airport authority meeting, board members decided to go with a plan that included a turnaround cul-de-sac, or "stub," which will allow pilots to turn their planes around more easily. During the meeting, board members learned the FAA also is mandating an environmental impact study be done as part of the widening. During its meeting, the authority decided it could proceed with the earth-moving portion of the project because the the bid from Cast and Baker didn't exceed the engineer's estimate by more than 10 percent. However, the authority advised bids accepted from the electrical and paving portions be rejected, as the scope of that part of the project had changed.
During Thursday's meeting, commissioners agreed with the airport authority's recommendation and voted 3-0 to reject bids for the electrical and paving portions of the project - with the understanding they will be rebid in the future - and accept the earth-moving bid.
Commissioners expressed mild frustration with the federally mandated changes but were confident the project would be accomplished.
"We're not allowed to do anything until we get the FAA approval," said Commissioner Tom Gentile.
"The reason these bids are being rejected is because the project has now changed," said Commissioner Thomas Graham, adding the construction aspects rejected would be rebid at the soonest opportunity. "I believe this is the best thing to do."
Commissioner Dave Maple also noted the Jefferson County prosecutor also had been consulted on the matter, and it was determined rejecting the bids "would be the safest call," and he was "comfortable" with the rejection, adding it would also be the fairest move for contractors as well.
In other matters:
- Mike Warren from the county auditor's office told commissioners several studies would need to be conducted and mandates met in the coming year to the county's self-funded health insurance plan to comply with the Federal Affordable Care Act.
"We need a measurement period of one year (for several aspects of the county plan)," said Warren, adding measurements would be needed for ongoing employees and variable-hour employees to see if they would be covered by the county plan.
He added stability and administrative periods for various lengths of time also would have to be established to meet the federal law's mandates.
Graham said the process was going to add more work for county officials.
"What we have is a lot of paperwork and bureaucracy because of the Affordable Care Act," Graham said. "Last week and this week we've had two changes because of the Affordable Care Act, and there will be more."
- It was announced the next commissioners' meeting would be moved to 9 a.m. Wednesday because of the Independence Day holiday.