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Shortages of all kinds affecting Orem city projects

By Genelle Pugmire daily Herald - | Jun 9, 2021
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Orem city crews fixing sidewalks throughout the city are having a harder time finding concrete for their projects. 

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Orem crews complete a sidewalk repair, but future projects may be put on hiatus if they can't get the concrete they need for the jobs.

Just when Trevor Bell thought things were getting back to normal, the COVID-19 pandemic took another swipe at Orem projects.

Bell is the official purchasing agent for the city and as such helps departments acquire things that are needed, particularly construction projects.

Most people who have been keeping their nose in the news are aware there are not only massive shortages, but prices for construction items like concrete have gone through the roof.

“The ability to buy right now is difficult,” Bell said. “Concrete has a national shortage, but there is also a lot of building going on.”

Orem is not a large buyer of concrete and so Bell said it is low on the priority list.

Bell noted state of Utah officials sent out a request for purchase (RFP) for concrete and they couldn’t even get what they needed.

“All of our property is substantially higher (in cost) than what was bid for,” Bell said. “It’s making it something we have to plan (ahead) for and we have to start prioritizing projects.”

The lead times on getting products also are increasing, in some cases more than doubling.

“It is taking two to three weeks longer to get things,” Bell said. “For instance nitrile gloves (industrial rubber gloves) used by our sewer team and mechanics are hard to get. We’ve had to find vendors, order larger amounts or buy straight from the manufacturer.”

Bell said on several other things the city has been able to work around a problem or plan accordingly.

“The problem is the vendors are working with the same problems,” Bell said.

When things will get back to normal, prices drop and time lags shorten is anyone’s guess, according to Bell.

“Based on forecasts, it was supposed to die down earlier this year,” Bell said. “Now, there is no end in sight.”

Everything the public can’t get, the city can’t get and it is feeling the squeeze, too. It is unfortunate as a government agency that Orem can’t get things, Bell added.

Until changes do occur, expect Orem to choose projects that are a major priority as officials try to keep budgets in line. The good news is that many projects are already on their way and the products have been purchased.

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