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County set to move ahead on Belle Meade, Highway 150 sewer projects

Years of planning will soon come to fruition for the McDuffie County Commission. Four bids were awarded for sewer system expansion work at the Commission meeting last Tuesday night.

Construction is due to begin in early June at Belle Meade and the industrial park at the intersection of Hwy. 150 and I-20. Commissioners commented that despite the potential headaches during construction, seeing the project get to this point is a victory 12 years in the making.

"After working on the easements for about three years now ... it's great to be able to see it go to bid," Commission Chairman Charlie Newton said. "It's going to do some great things for handling some public health problems in Belle Meade. We've already handled those on Dallas Drive, and it's going to really make our 150 interchange with I-20 out there viable."

John R. Walker, Inc. will do the work in Belle Meade. L & L Utilities will handle construction at the Hwy. 150 interchange. Mabus Brothers will build the pump stations, and Piedmont Water Company will handle the force mains.

Engineers on the project recommended the four separate contractors because they had the low bid for each section of work. Also, leaders decided that approach was best due to the scope of the project which they say will add a great deal to the area.

"It's a really needed project. There's no doubt about it, so I think it's going to be great," County Manager Don Norton said. "These projects always make sort of a mess while they're being built, but once they're done, I think people are going to love it."

The $7.4 million project was originally funded jointly by United States Department of Agriculture grants, a Community Development Block Grant and Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax.

After Hurricane Katrina drove up the price of materials, the cost of construction rose to $8.5 million. More than $376,000 was added to the project from SPLOST along with $754,250 from the sale of a piece of land back to the Industrial Development Authority.

The land was originally sold to the county to use as the site of a treatment plant. After it was deemed unusable for that purpose, the county held on to the property. Officials recently approached the IDA about buying the property back to help make up the difference on the sewer project.

"This is a huge project, and with the selling of this land back to the Industrial Development Authority, it's going back to what it was meant for," Commissioner Darrell Wester said prior to the vote last week. "...And the project is not that much over what it was originally going to cost."

Web posted on Thursday, April 13, 2006

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