Chesterton Tribune

Porter accepts bids for $1.3M sewer lift station project

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Grimmer Construction Inc. of Highland is the apparent low bidder at $1,361,093 to build the new Porter Avenue lift station and force main into the Chesterton sewage treatment plant.

Project manager Warren Thiede of Haas & Associates engineers told the Porter Town Council that the seven bids received are being reviewed and a recommendation will be made at the April 24 meeting.

“The bids were very competitive; we got good prices,” said Thiede. “We got a call from Grimmer and they’re ready to go.”

Two easements need to be finalized before construction can begin, but the bids are open for 60 days and one can be awarded pending final notice to proceed.

Porter is under an agreed order with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management to upgrade/replace components of its sewage infrastructure or face fines and sanctions.

Two bond issues totalling $5 million were sold to finance the bulk of the work. A reline of downtown Porter sewers is ongoing and on schedule, said Thiede.

Beach parking compromise?

The Town Council asked building commissioner Michael Barry to meet with Porter Beach residents involved in the Dearborn Street Parking Association, which uses public right-of-way for private vehicle parking. Erosion also is a problem in that area.

Council member and beach resident Elka Nelson said it benefits everyone to combat erosion, and that there are two options for the parking situation: association members reach agreement and apply for a license from the town to park in a public way, or lacking a license the town enforces its ordinance that bans such parking.

Council president Greg Stinson said the involved parties need to agree on a plan and present it. “We don’t want to get in the middle. This is a neighborhood issue.”

Barry also was asked to address additional Porter Beach concerns raised last year about parking and general signage/safety issues.

Mittal east gate review

Barry, who also serves as director of development, was tapped again to coordinate a review and propose solutions to prevent traffic back-ups on U.S. 12 near the ArcelorMittal east gate, which is located in Porter.

Burns Harbor town officials have discussed the problem, and last month the NIRPC Transportation Policy Committee addressed a need to do something about semi-trucks backing up along U.S. 12 while freight trains block the mill entrance.

Porter and Burns Harbor residents in the area can’t get in or out of their driveways, and through-traffic can’t proceed as vehicles come to a standstill on the two-lane road.

Porter police chief James Spanier said things have been a bit better the last few months, but construction is about to begin on Mittal’s Deerfield landfill disposal facility which Nelson said could mean more trucks.

Spanier said Porter alone would be hard-pressed to implement a permanent solution since U.S. 12 is under Indiana Department of Transportation jurisdiction, so all involved should be contacted.

Barry said his department is investigating whether land is available to add bypass lanes. Spanier speculated Mittal might be able to rearrange its east entrance.

Porter council member Rob Pomeroy said he’s an independent contractor who works at Mittal and a project is in the works to install another truck scale there to ease congestion. “Whether that’s enough is yet to be determined,” he said, noting sometimes traffic is backed up one-quarter mile on U.S. 12.

In another highway matter, Spanier said a pedestrian bridge over U.S. 20 at Howe Road was slated to be installed today with brief morning closures planned and restricted lane movement with a flagger later in the day. He recommended motorists avoid the area.

Also Tuesday, Porter Public Works director Brenda Brueckheimer asked residents to bag their leaves and grass clippings and to call her department to arrange pick-up.

Engineered lumber tags sought

Nelson recommended Porter follow Burns Harbor’s lead and adopt an ordinance requiring contractors/homeowners who install pre-engineered lumber during construction to purchase municipal tags to display on the building that warn emergency responders such lumber was used.

The joists and beams burn significantly faster than conventional lumber posing a hazard.

Porter fire chief Lewis Craig Sr. said when the weight of debris and water is factored in, “If I need someone to get up there to hit the hot spots, it’d be nothing to have that floor collapse on them.”

Nelson said responders need to know what they’re walking into. She suggested using the Burns Harbor ordinance as a model to draft Porter’s own. Council member Jeannine Virtue supported the proposal.

The Porter Town Council voted 4-0 with member Bill Cantrell absent to renew its annual contract with Westchester Township to provide fire protection in its unincorporated areas. The cost is based on the previous year’s Porter call-outs. In 2011 the number dropped so an annual contract price of $5,292 was approved; it’s $1,814 less than last year.



Posted 4/11/2012