South Field Project Creates Snag for Paving Work

WELLSVILLE, Ohio — A long-awaited paving and improvement project for several key intersections in the village could be rescheduled as the projected start date coincides with a massive project by South Field Energy.

At a preconstruction meeting Thursday, village officials and representatives of the Columbiana County Port Authority gathered to discuss time frames and work schedules, contact names and numbers and other routine contractual matters for the paving project.

Discussions hit a snag, however, when it was determined the proposed March 9 start date and subsequent work schedule coincided with plans by South Field Energy to continue its recent movements of large pieces of equipment headed for its power plant under construction a few miles outside of the village.

The cargo’s travel route is along 17th Street, Main Street and Aten Avenue onto state Route 7, right in the proposed paving area.

According to a heavy haul cargo list for the South Field project, deliveries are expected throughout March and until May 24, said Mark Ruffing, project manager for Edwards Moving & Rigging.

“When we move, we need most of the road,” Ruffing said.

Steve Keyfauver, traffic and logistics supervisor for Bechtel Infrastructure and Power Corp., said all the cargo moves are planned for after 9 a.m. when school is in session, with some also set for Sundays. “Obviously, we have to maintain our schedule for our moves,” he says.

Other routes have been considered but would necessitate moving utility poles, it was noted.

The paving project includes intersections at Aten and Clark avenues, Clark Avenue and 17th Street, 17th and Main streets and Main and 18th streets, with a $587,089.20 contract awarded to Marucci and Gaffney Excavating of Youngstown.

The cost of the project is being paid primarily with grant funding awarded to the Columbiana County commissioners by the Ohio Development Services Agency. At issue is the Aug. 31 deadline by which the state grant funds must be spent, meaning the paving project must be completed by then.

Funding encompasses Community Development Block Grant, critical infrastructure and revolving loan fund monies, said Brittany Smith, financial assistant for the port authority. Smith is handling the financial end of the project for the port authority, which is administering the grant.

The ODSA grant was, in turn, awarded by commissioners to the village of Wellsville, which was required to provide $43,600 in matching funds. That funding is from contributions made possible through a memorandum of understanding signed in 2018 between Mayor Nancy Murray and six businesses located in the port authority’s Intermodal Facility in the village.

Per the memorandum, Anchor Drilling Fluids USA Inc., Cimbar Performance Minerals, Quality Liquid Feeds Inc., Pier 48 Stevedoring LLC, Hillcorp-Harvest and Marathon — whose businesses are daily reached by truck traffic via those crucial intersections — each agreed to pay $7,142.85 between 2018 and 2022.

Mayor Murray suggested offloading the cargo in East Liverpool and hauling it southward on state Route 7 into Wellsville, which would circumvent the intersections in question, but the port authority’s executive director Penny Traina said the majority is coming by rail and there is no facility for offloading cargo by rail in East Liverpool.

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Images: South Field Energy

In his outline, Jon Blair, of Dallis Dawson & Associates, mentioned that the contract calls for 90 working days, whereas John Markota of Marucci and Gaffney said he was under the mistaken impression it called for 90 calendar days and said he will have to revise the schedule.

Referring to the need for Edwards Moving & Rigging to use those targeted intersections through May 24 for hauling the cargo to the South Field plant, Gary Ball, superintendent of Marucci & Gaffney said it “almost looks like we can’t start by June,” prompting Markota to add, “Which means we can’t complete it by August.”

Smith was asked if she could speak with Ohio Development Services Agency about getting an extension on the grant funding, and she agreed to reach out, saying it will be “frowned upon,” but that the scope of the South Field Energy project provides a “very good argument as to why it needs extended.”

Keyfauver questioned whether paving work could begin at 18th and Main streets since the cargo does not travel through there. Markota said he will have to first revise the schedule to the 90 working days format before deciding.

Officials voiced their hope that either the grant extension will be approved, at which time Smith said an amendment would have to be completed, or a schedule change can be made to accommodate both the cargo transport and paving project.

In May 2019, South Field Energy broke ground on the 1,182-megawatt, low-carbon combined-cycle natural gas electric generating plant, located on 20 acres of a 150-acre site three miles outside of the village. The $1.3 billion project was projected to create up to 1,000 construction jobs over the construction period. When completed, it’s expected to employ some 25 full-time workers in engineering, technical, operation, management and administrative positions.

Image: cogdogblog / CC0

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