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Federal loan could aid utility projects in Weirton

ANNOUNCEMENT — Weirton Ward 4 Councilman George Ash, from left, Mayor Harold Miller and Utilities Director A.D. “Butch” Mastrantoni announce the city’s eligibility for a federal loan program that could help fund planned utility expansion projects. (Photo by Craig Howell)

WEIRTON — The City of Weirton has an opportunity to receive up to $24 million in federal loans to assist with plans to upgrade and expand the city’s utility operations.

Mayor Harold Miller was joined Thursday by Utilities Director A.D. “Butch” Mastrantoni and Ward 4 Councilman George Ash to announce the city has been selected to participate in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act program.

Participation in the program will make the city eligible to receive federal loans of $12 million each toward the expansion of the city’s water treatment plant and wastewater treatment plant.

“It’s an exciting day for the city of Weirton and for the development and future growth,” Miller said.

The mayor expressed appreciation to U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D.-W.Va., U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and U.S. Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., for their support in the process, noting Weirton is the only West Virginia city which has been selected to participate in the federal program.

WIFIA is a federal credit program administered by the EPA for eligible water and wastewater infrastructure projects, offering loans with low, fixed interest rates and flexible financial terms.

Mastrantoni explained the loans will help to provide approximately 45 percent of the funding anticipated for each expansion project.

The city’s water and sanitary boards have each spent the last couple of years developing plans for expansions to their plants, with proposals to grow from their current 4 million gallons per day treatment capacity to 8 million gallons per day at each plant.

Mastrantoni said the plants’ current treatment capacities will not allow for any future growth in the city.

“They’re still operating, but their capacity is limited,” Mastrantoni said.

Miller explained expanded water and sewer services would better support ongoing development efforts in the city, such as the Frontier Crossing project and along Park Drive, while attracting new opportunities.

“We’re excited to provide those locations with water, sewer and other utilities,” Miller said.

The city currently is in the design phase for each of the expansion projects, with Mastrantoni noting designs are approximately one-third complete. It is estimated it will take between six and nine months to complete the designs and for them to be reviewed by state and federal officials. Once those steps are complete, the project can go out to bid, with officials estimating an 11-to-18-month period for the actual construction phase.

(Howell can be contacted at chowell@weirtondailytimes.com, and followed via Twitter @CHowellWDT)

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