Youngstown board approves $2M for Vallourec Star rail work
By David Skolnick
About $2.3 million in additional work to railroad construction and improvements for the $1.1 billion Vallourec Star expansion uses the last remaining dollars the city received in 2009 from the federal stimulus package for this project.
The city’s board of control on Thursday approved $2,310,888 worth of change orders to the project.
The work to be done includes improving a railroad track that runs parallel to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard to service the new mill as well as adding more tracks and the demolition of a bridge, said Charles Shasho, deputy director of the city’s public works department.
The new change orders — as well as seven others over the past few years that totaled $546,092 — brings the project’s cost to $16,932,776.
Overall, the $2,856,980 in change orders increase the original project cost of $14,075,796 by about 20 percent.
Except for about $175,000 from Vallourec Star (formerly known as V&M Star), the rest of these additional costs will come from federal stimulus funds, Shasho said.
Money from the stimulus, formally called the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, was awarded to Youngstown in March 2009 for rail work related to the company’s expansion.
The work will start shortly and is expected to be done in late October or early November, Shasho said.
This project has been continuously delayed almost since it started. It originally was supposed to be done by December 2011.
“The project was challenging,” Shasho acknowledged.
It took the city three times before it awarded a contract for the work because the proposals exceeded the city’s estimate twice. Each time it sought proposals, the city first needed to get the permission on the specifications from the Ohio Rail Development Commission, the Ohio Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration.
Also, negotiations on relocating Norfolk Southern railroad lines stalled for several months before a resolution was reached, Shasho said.
Vallourec’s expansion, located next to its other plant off Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, opened in October 2012.
The mills manufacture seamless steel tubes used in the oil and gas industry, primarily for fracking.