Courthouse canopy project gets low bids

HOLLIDAYSBURG – Low bids for two canopies and an extension on the main entrance of the Blair County Courthouse came in below estimates, so the proposed project is likely to get started in September.

Commissioners delayed the awarding of contracts until next week’s meeting to allow further review of the submitted bids.

BCS Construction Inc. of Altoona submitted the low bid of $329,175 for the general construction contract, which attracted four other bidders.

Commercial Electrical Services Inc. of Duncansville submitted the low bid of $41,850 for the electrical work, which drew three additional bidders.

The low bids, totaling $371,025, came under the projected cost of $400,000, Hollidaysburg architect Pat Baechle told commissioners Tuesday.

Commissioners hired Baechle a few months ago to design coverings that would provide some protection for visitors and employees who were subjected last winter to inclement weather and melting snow when entering and departing the courthouse. While the project was initially described as three canopies, it has since been revised to a vestibule extension of the main entrance along Allegheny Street and canopies over the exit door on Allegheny Street and the employee entrance/exit on Union Street.

Commissioners said the contractors will have some flexibility in how they tackle the project.

When work starts on the main entrance on Allegheny Street, visitors will be rerouted to the Union Street entrance, Chief Clerk Helen Schmitt said. And when contractors begin working on the Union Street canopy, employees will be directed to the entrance on Allegheny Street.

Commissioners Chairman Terry Tomassetti said Tuesday that if commissioners award the contracts on Tuesday, he expects to see the job begin in September so it can finish before winter.

The contracts allow 120 days for construction, and that could affect voting during the Nov. 4 election.

But voters who cast their ballots at the courthouse can be directed to the Union Street entrance if contractors are working then on the Allegheny Street entrance, Commissioner Diane Meling said. There’s also a ramp at that entrance for those with handicaps.

“We’d like to keep the voting precinct in the courthouse,” Meling said.

The cost of the improvements is to be covered with money designated in a 2014 bond issue borrowing. Commissioners agreed earlier this year to secure a bond issue to cover the cost of reassessment and capital improvements that also include waterproofing measures at the courthouse and the employee parking garage.

Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 946-7456.