Ohio County School Bond Committee: Expect Rising Costs

Other construction projects in Ohio Valley may affect costs

Photos by Joselyn King Members of the Ohio County Schools Bond Advisory Committee take in a work session Thursday morning at the school district offices.

Members of the Ohio County Schools Bond Advisory Committee told school officials Thursday to set aside a higher amount of contingency dollars for their $76 million property improvement plan, as the cost of construction is likely to rise in the coming months.

Todd Dei, civil engineer at JD&E, said an expected boom in construction has made it challenging for firms to hire enough skilled construction labor.

The building of a natural gas power plant in Brooke County and a potential ethane cracker plant in Belmont County are among the projects that could soon come on the landscape.

The result to the purchaser is time delays, and potentially higher costs.

A West Virginia Department of Highways project to improve bridges along Interstate 70 in Ohio County already came in $74 million above projected costs, causing a delay in construction.

“As projects start releasing at the same time, our trades market change — and that can influence cost in every direction,” Dei said. “If all these things release at the same time, it’s a great market for the contractors.

The list of projects at each school was listed in the language for a $22 million bond issue approved by voters in May, and the school district is legally bound to complete the projects.

Jerry Jacobs, former PCS employee and consultant, pointed out the scope of Ohio County Schools projects — as currently planned — extends three years through the end of 2021.

Both Jacobs and Dei said costs will rise over time.

He said the McKinley & Associates engineering firm of Wheeling, contractor for the Ohio County Schools school improvement projects, can only estimate costs and these change over time. He suggested an outside firm be contracted to review numbers.

Ernie Dellatorre, president of McKinley & Associates, said contingency dollars have been built into the project.