Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

July 19, 2013

Two companies bid on Flight of Five restoration job

By Joyce M. Miles joyce.miles@lockportjournal.com
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — The state Canal Corporation expects to award a bid for Flight of Five locks restoration work by mid-August, an agency spokesman said this week.

On its call for pricing of services to rebuild and restore function to original locks 69 and 70, the agency received bids from two companies, Hohl Industrial Services of Tonawanda and BVR Construction Co. of Churchville, near Rochester.

Hohl offered to do the work for $1.74 million and BVR for $1.9 million, Shane Mahar, deputy director of communications for the Thruway Authority/Canal Corp., said Wednesday. The bids were opened July 10 in Albany.

While the agency hasn’t officially decided who to hire yet, based on the project budget, $1.8 million cash raised by the City of Lockport from grants and a long-term loan, it appears the job of restoring two locks in the 170-year-old series will go to Hohl Industrial Services.

Canal Corp. took the Flight restoration “demonstration” project proposed by the city’s Locks Heritage District Committee and broke it down into three distinct jobs/bids.

The base job/bid consisted of locks restoration; additional jobs were restoration work on the pedestrian railings throughout the Flight area and restoration of three other stone footbridges over the remaining locks.

The additional jobs would only be hired out if the project budget allowed them. It did not, so the base-plus bids are being rejected, Mahar said.

Hohl quoted pricing of $1.87 million for locks and railings restoration and $2.18 million for locks, railings and footbridges; BVR’s quotes were $2.2 million and $2.5 million respectively.

According to Mahar, seven prime contractors and 13 subcontractors and suppliers responded to Canal Corp.’s RFPs for the project.

A prime contractor should be hired by mid-August, after internal Canal Corp. evaluation of the bids and approvals by the Thruway Authority, the state Attorney General’s and Comptroller’s offices, according to Mahar.

Once the contract is awarded, the contractor will be expected to start construction within 10 days. According to Mahar, that means construction work on the locks should start in the last week of August or the first week of September. The target completion date is June 2014.

Canal Corp. is supervising construction because the locks are state property, but it is not contributing to the project budget. The City of Lockport is footing the bill to develop a tourist attraction and, by written agreement with Canal Corp., will be responsible for maintaining the improved locks and operating the attraction. The gist is to show people how boat traffic was moved through the locks back in the day, by manual opening and closing of the chambers. An 1860s period-accurate wooden canal packet boat is being commissioned for use in the demonstrations.

The two-locks project is undertaken in the hope that it attracts charitable funding for restoration of locks 67, 68 and 71 in the Flight series. By project engineer Bergmann Associates’ latest current-dollar estimate, that’ll cost another $8 million. Backers are trusting that, once funders can see what the money buys, grants will be easier to land.