Hope approves scaled-back sewer project

HOPE — Hope Town Council members have approved a scaled-back version of a much-needed project to upgrade a deteriorating Hope storm sewer.

Work to replace the current storm sewer under Washington Street, which dates back in part to the late 1800s, will likely begin within a month-and-a-half from Harrison Street to the west side of Main Street (State Road 9), said Tony Akles, Strand and Associates engineering consulting firm project manager.

The goal is to finish the storm sewer upgrade before the Heritage Days festival in late September, Akles said.

Originally, the town was seeking a $608,000 grant from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA) to upgrade a three-block section of the Washington Street storm sewer, from State Road 9 east to the Community Center of Hope. But despite evidence of potentially-dangerous deterioration — including the discover of two sinkholes in parking lot asphalt — OCRA did not award any funds to Hope earlier this year.

The town council then decided to upgrade only a single block of storm sewer south of the town square. They plan to utilize existing funding already available from Hope’s Stormwater Utility Fund, as well as economic development income tax revenue, Akles said.

On Tuesday, the town council unanimously accepted the low bid from Roy Holman Excavating LLC of Versailles of $172,166 — less than an engineer’s original estimate of $296,000. The company has been awarded earlier contracts to make improvements on Hauser and Schaefer drives, Akles said.

Four other bids were submitted and considered, Akles said:

Schutte Excavating of Greensburg: $191,755

Dave O’Mara Contractors, Inc. of North Vernon: $237,893

Mike Holman Excavating Inc. of Versailles: $250,606

Brackney Inc. of Brookville: $417,499

After the underground work is completed, the area will be resurfaced as a separate project with money from a third funding source — a Community Crossing grant awarded last year from the Indiana Department of Transportation, Akles said.

However, Akles said it’s not clear at this time whether all the paving can be completed in time for the three-day Heritage Days celebration.