Levee repair costs nearing $2 million

The cost of recertifying the levee is closing in on $2 million.

That’s the figure City Council’s finance and public works committees heard from Tuesday from a Lycoming County official.

“It’s closer to $2 million,” said Fran McJunkin, county deputy director of the Department of Planning and Community Development.

The discussion with McJunkin and others surfaced during a proposed extension of a contract with Wood, the engineering firm designing and preparing for the next stage in the recertification: installation of relief wells.

Overall, the cost of repairing crosspipes in the levee could push the project to the expected $8 million level. It has been estimated other costs involved in replacing an “I” wall with a t-shaped wall on the Lycoming Creek side will push the levee costs to about $16 million in the next five years.

McJunkin, meanwhile, said besides installation of the relief wells, the county has submitted a grant application of up to $500,000 toward the levee project.

“We continue to work closely with the Army Corps of Engineers to help to identify problems and satisfy the corps requirements in the northwest portion of the levee,” she said.

The levee protects about $4 billion in real estate in the city and four nearby municipalities, McJunkin said.

Wood’s extension would take it to 2022.

The committee and Mayor Gabriel J. Campana asked for an update of the cost-to-date.

“The figures are all over the place,” said Councilwoman Bonnie Katz, public works committee chairwoman.

Campana agreed.

“Where are we going and how much is Wood getting paid per hour?” he asked. “Sometimes Wood’s wages change.”

The wells are paid for through a $2 million state Redevelopment Assistance Capital Projects grant secured through the efforts of state Sen. Gene Yaw, R-Loyalsock Township and Penn Strategies Inc., the city economic development consulting firm.

Jason Fitzgerald, president of Penn Strategies, said the company will provide city officials with a list of cost-to-date on the levee recertification project.

The levee must be recertified in order to prevent those in the floodplain near it from having to pay for flood insurance. The levee, built by the Army Corps in 1950s, is having to meet standards set after Hurricane Katrina by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.