MURRAY — Another project involving utility relocation for the long-anticipated expansion of U.S. 641 South to four lanes between Murray and Hazel received approval Thursday night. 

The Murray City Council unanimously gave its OK on a bid from an Alabama firm to relocate natural gas lines along that route. The bid of T.J. Construction from Florence, Alabama was for $272,502.01 and was lower than the other bidder, Mark Rowe Construction of Charlotte, Tennessee, by about $130,000. 

“I’m not familiar with Mark Rowe, but T.J. has done quite a bit of work with the city in the past and we’re very happy with those guys,” said Jaimey Erwin, field operations manager for Murray Natural Gas, who presented the bids to the Public Works Committee of the council. The committee unanimously approved that bid, then the full council did the same in its meeting later in the evening. 

“They did work on 641 earlier,” Erwin recalled. “We had to redo part of that project in which we had to dismiss the contractor that was doing the extension project there a few years back, so they came in and did that for us and did an excellent job. They have also handled projects on Green Plains Road and Pottertown Road.”

Work has been ongoing on the southernmost portion of South 12th Street in Murray since the beginning of the year. Earlier, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet District 1 Public Information Officer Keith Todd said he believed these operations would continue on South 12th (which becomes 641 South past the city limits) through late this year.

That falls in line with when Erwin said the project won by T.J. Thursday night is to be completed. 

“They have 180 days from receiving the notice to proceed and we’ll set that after it’s approved (Thursday),” he said. 

Councilman John Mark Roberts inquired as to why the bids were so far apart. 

“If you look at the unit prices and totals, for instance, the 4-inch HDD (horizontal directional drilling) for T.J. was $43 per foot, where Mark Rowe had it at $200, so that brought T.J.’s total for just that to $14,000, while Mark Rowe was $65,000. It was little things like that,” Erwin responded. 

Councilman Terry Strieter also wanted to know why only two firms submitted bids. 

“We advertised this in (The Ledger & Times) and our engineer sent it to all of our previous bidders for similar projects, but at this time of year, pipeline contractors are extremely busy during the summer months. I think that’s the reason for the low amount of bidders here,” Erwin responded, adding that he did know of eight contractors that were sent bidding materials related to the project.  

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