Feds’ Buy American law stalls water main project in Carson City
Public Works Director Darren Schulz says stricter federal Buy American law has delayed a Carson City water main project, which postpones possible traffic snarls near Carson High School.
Schulz indicated a silver lining in that cloud, though it’s still preliminary, is possible phasing of the project may allow construction work on Saliman Road near Carson High during next year’s spring break. The project, now past the bidding stage, at first was expected this summer before this school year but a bidding glitch delayed it then. So Schulz’s target was to do it this fall even though school would be in session.
Schulz had said blocking off some lanes and slower school traffic might occur, and that remains possible if feasibility of the spring break work timetable falls through. But that timing at least is now possible in the $2 million project, Schulz said, because this second delay comes due to “a deepening requirement” in federal Buy American law that means contractors must use specified products.
“They took it one step further,” Schulz said of federal lawmakers, in the “American iron and steel act.”
Schulz said the additional requirements were included in the bid specifications by the city, but now Sierra Nevada Construction, the low bidder is stalled by compliance problems. Schulz said the difficulty is with vendors who haven’t yet geared up sufficiently to provide Sierra Nevada Construction and other contractors what is needed under law.
“Any time you get money from the federal government,” Schulz said, “they put on specific standards on how you can spend that money.”
The public works director also said he wanted the project from Saliman Road to Roop Street, which goes through Mills Park, done quickly and so it won’t be delayed further next year to do work near the school after the academic school year ends. He indicated that makes the spring break option his best card to play, but he wasn’t prepared to promise it would work out.
He said the project is one phase in a major effort to link mains on the city’s east and west sides, eventually all the way to the westside Quill water treatment plant, and improve the overall water system.