DOBSON — There are still a lot of i’s to dot and t’s to cross, but pending the proper alignment of the stars, shovels could go into the ground on the long-anticipated Interstates Sewer Project this summer, County Manager Chris Knopf said.
Since the December nod by the Surry County Board of Commissioners to authorize Galax, Va.-based engineering firm Adams Heath to begin work on the final design for the $4.5-million combined gravity and force-main system, target dates are coming fast and furious.
“Things are moving along nicely, and so far we’re staying on schedule, but there are a few hurdles to overcome before we’ll know anything concrete,” he said.
Those hurdles involve securing a formal funding agreement with the city of Mount Airy, submitting finalized plans to the state and securing easements from the affected property owners.
The plan, which would extend sewer service to the Interstates 77 and 74 areas west of Mount Airy, seeks to stimulate growth in what officials have identified as a prime development area near the two highways.
The city has pledged $1 million to the project, provided the county uses the combined system, which would offer more capacity and the ability to connect Gentry Middle and North Surry High schools to the service.
In addition to the $1 million in funding pledged to the project by Mount Airy with the stipulation that the higher capacity combined gravity and force-main system be used, the county has secured $1 million in funding from the Rural Center, and an additional $300,000 in funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission, $200,000 from the Golden LEAF Foundation, $150,000 through a federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), and a pledge of about $160,000 from property owners in the district.
A meeting between city and county officials to discuss the agreement has been set for Feb. 12.
Once the funding agreement has been secured, the county is facing a March 15 deadline for submitting final engineering plans to the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
Pending approval of the drawings, the county will begin securing property rights and easements from affected property owners.
Knopf has said the county has a March 18 deadline to get the process started.
“We want to just start talking to them about the easements,” he said. “Previous talks indicate their willingness to work with us, and we want to ensure that we cover those bases in order to stay on schedule.”
He added that once the county reaches an agreement with the city, meets the deadline to submit final drawings to the state and secures easements, things should start moving pretty quickly.
“If we stay on schedule, and right now we are on schedule, the start of construction could be around July 29, and the entire project could be completed about a year later,” Knopf said.
But right now, the final drawings are still a work in progress.
“We’re still working on the engineering drawings that incorporate the combined system,” Knopf said. “By the time we submit the plans to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, that work should be finished.
“There are four to six weeks before the drawings will be complete,” he added. “And after they’re completed, we will begin looking to secure all easements and pump station lots.”
Without those easements, the project can’t move forward, the county manager cautioned.
“Any issues there could involve a design change,” he said, adding that once the final designs are completed, any design change could send the entire project back to the drawing board.
The goal, according to Knopf, is to begin advertising for a construction company by mid-May.
“I’m sure there will be a lot more things come up as all these initial pieces start falling into place, but if it does, we’ll then have all the pieces necessary to start talking about bidding it out,” he said.
From the time the bids are advertised, Knopf estimated it will be about two months before construction begins.
“At that point, things should start moving pretty quickly,” he said.
Reach Keith Strange at email@example.com or 719-1929.