Soaring steel prices drive up transfer station costs | Greene County

CATSKILL — The bids are in for the county’s Coxsackie transfer station reconstruction project and they arrived higher than initially projected.

One reason for this, offered Greene County Administrator Shaun Groden, is the dramatic rise in the price of steel, a key component of the transfer station, which is in turn driving up construction costs.

The county opened bids for the Coxsackie station reconstruction on Dec. 9 and the Jersen Construction Group in Waterford submitted the lowest bid at $2,061,000. The lowest bidder for the project’s electrical work was CDE Electric in Cairo at $122,680 for the proposed labor.

In his presentation to the Greene County Legislature during the board’s Public Works Committee meeting Monday, Highway and Solid Waste Department Superintendent Scott Templeton said the transfer station work would be worth the investment.

“This is the elephant in the room,” Templeton said. “We put out the bids for the Coxsackie transfer station reconstruction. We estimated $1.2 million and it came back a little over $2 million. With that, I think we really need to focus on what we’ll end up saving and the return on investment with the Coxsackie station. The amount of miles that we drive every day currently, or 7,800 miles from Catskill to Coxsackie and back for our personnel. That’s 820 hours in a year that we’re spending handling solid waste that we probably shouldn’t.”

The Public Works and Finance committees each unanimously approved resolutions Monday to award the contractor bid to Jersen Construction Group and the electrical contractor bid to CDE Electric for the project. The proposed contracting bids will now be sent to the full legislature for a final vote.

Legislator Matthew Luvera, R-Catskill, asked Templeton during the meeting how the county was changing its solid waste operation considering the planned upgrades to the Coxsackie site. Templeton said the Coxsackie station is set up so that each ton of solid waste that goes into the station has to be picked up by county personnel and brought to Catskill before being reloaded into a trailer and sent on its way.

In addition to the Coxsackie site, the county has three additional transfer stations in Catskill, Hunter and Windham, with the Catskill station acting as the main hub.

On Sept. 20, 2020, the Legislature authorized the funding and construction of the Coxsackie transfer station. Four days earlier, the Legislature approved funds for construction work on the Hunter transfer station. That project is in its final stages.

“There’s some punch-list items left and some small things left,” Greene County Administrator Shaun Groden said of the Hunter project. “It’s fully operational, there are just some small things left to complete.”

While it remains operational, the Coxsackie transfer station needs a complete reconstruction, Groden said.

“It’s old and tired,” he said. “It was actually the village of Coxsackie’s unit and we took it over years ago. It needs to be gutted and totally revamped.”

Groden said the funding for the Coxsackie project would from the county’s general fund.

“We had budgeted $1.25 million and it’s coming in at just over $2 million,” he said. “The issue is steel. Steel is just going through the roof over the last year. We just missed it with the jail (construction), but since then it’s been up around 500%.”

Under the tentative timeline for the Coxsackie station renovation, the upgrades would be completed by fall 2022.

During the Monday evening meeting, Templeton contended that the investment in the refurbished Coxsackie station would pay off in the long run, even if the costs are higher than initially anticipated.

“We’re in the solid waste industry and we need to become more efficient at what we do,” he said. “We’ll always transport solid waste out of Greene County. Whether it’s new technology advances somewhere in the future, we still need to transport our waste and we need to become more efficient. Investing in the Coxsackie transfer station where it’s a direct haul, similar to Hunter and Catskill, that eliminates the handling of our material. So if costs did come back a little higher than we expected, I think in today’s economy with an 8 percent inflation rate, I think this is what you’re going to end up getting.”

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