John Purcell/Recorder staff

Montgomery County Business Development Center CEO Kenneth Rose talks Thursday to county Industrial Development Agency board members.


Recorder News Staff

FONDA — Montgomery County officials are planning to voice their displeasure to state officials about the amount National Grid is charging to replace utility poles along Route 5S, which is required to widen the roadway.

Montgomery County Industrial Development Agency members Thursday begrudgingly approved paying $489,869 to National Grid for the installation of 20 new utility poles, wires and related components, along with labor costs for landscaping and traffic control. Montgomery County Business Development Center CEO Kenneth Rose said local officials had roughly estimated National Grid would charge around $11,000 per pole, or $220,000 overall, based on a prior project with the Niagara Mohawk.

Rose said administration and overhead costs added $174,052 to the overall cost for National Grid, which a few county IDA members called “ridiculous” for the amount being so much. These costs account for 35.5 percent of National Grid’s project costs.

Rose said he and County Executive Matthew Ossenfort discussed the issue and decided they would mail a letter to the state Public Service Commission and the Governor’s Office to voice their opposition about National Grid.

“We’re shocked the PSC allows such a thing as far as administrative costs of this magnitude when upstate New York is hurting for economic development,” Rose said. “National Grid, honestly, with these poles is a monopoly.”

Rose said the county tried to use its own Department of Public Works employees for traffic control duties with the project, but National Grid refused. Flagging and traffic control costs are estimated at $83,250.

Route 5S cannot be widened until existing poles are removed and new poles are installed. The county cannot perform the work itself, but must contract with National Grid.

“We have to pay this bill upfront just to have them schedule the work, which could take them another month or two to actually do the pole relocations. We need to do that before the contractor can get in there and start doing their road widening,” Rose said.

Roadwork on Route 5S is being completed to provide better traffic flow with trucks entering the new Dollar General distribution center in the Florida Business Park Extension. The road is planned to be widened a total of 12 feet. A traffic light will be installed at the eastern entrance of the Dollar General facility that will blink yellow until the adjacent property, also owned by the county IDA, is developed.

McDonald Engineering has been drafting design plans for the Route 5S roadwork and has worked with the state Department of Transportation to reach the final plan.

Rose said the final revisions have been submitted to the DOT and the county would go out to bid for the project following state approval.

Rose said there had been considerable “back and forth” between McDonald Engineering and the state DOT, so the engineering firm submitted a change order for $60,500 of additional costs. County IDA members approved it Thursday.

Rose said the change order was not usual for a roadwork project requiring approval from a state agency. He said there have been numerous revisions to the plan.

“You don’t know what you’re going to get when you start getting into the regulatory environment,” Rose said to IDA members.