Benton Harbor approves $33 million in contracts for service line replacements
BENTON HARBOR, Mich. — Benton Harbor’s city commission approved $33 million to go toward lead service line replacements.
The money comes from a combination of federal and state funds.
13 contractors placed bids to be part of the effort to replace more than 4,000 lines and meet the aggressive 18-month deadline set by the state.
Abonmarche, the city’s engineer, divided it into 12 sections and ultimately chose five contractors.
Some got multiple contracts, which they’ll have to work on simultaneously.
“We told each contractor they could bid on more than one zone, but you have to do each at the same time so everybody gets mobilization,” said Joelle Regovich, Grant Administrator at Abonmarche.
Contractors are expected to have 25 percent of the work done by May 31st and there’s a gift for finishing the entire project earlier than the April 2023 deadline.
“If they finish early they get extra money, so a lot of them are really trying to get done by end of this year,” said Regovich.
Mayor Marcus Muhammad said one thing that was important for the city was seeing if it could be turned into a job opportunity for some residents.
“One of the unique features is our staff is working with Kinexus, local pastors to include residents in the workforce for this project,” said Mayor Muhammad.
Now, the big step is making sure residents give their permission for construction to start on their property – regardless of whether they think they need it.
“I’m one of those residents whose water tested at zero and I’ve been getting calls from other residents who tested at zero asking, ‘Mayor, why can’t I use my water?’” said Mayor Muhammad. “We’re a long way from where we want to be which is everybody at zero.”