Barring any financing hiccups, shovels could be in the ground as early as this summer installing sewer infrastructure in the northwestern part of the county — the final piece of the puzzle in the long-awaited Interstate Water and Sewer District project.
The project is designed to provide water and sewer service to the district, located along N.C. 89 between Interstates 74 and 77. The area has been targeted by county planners as ripe for economic development and commercial growth.
“Right now we’re finishing up securing funding sources,” Jack Gardin, water and sewer project coordinator for the county, said. “The design work has been done and permits have been obtained or will shortly be obtained.”
County officials have been working on the proposal since the late 1990s, when property owners in the area approached them with the idea.
Since that time, funding for the multi-million-dollar project has been the major hurdle, but the majority of the money is now in place. The remaining obstacle, Gardin said, is securing the final portion of funding. The last leg of the project is expected to cost about $2.399 million.
The county has secured $1 million in funding from the Rural Center, 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 and a pledge of about $160,000 from property owners in the district.
The remaining money, about $589,000, is expected to come from a combination of state and local sources, County Manager Dennis Thompson said Thursday.
“We’re hoping we can get some additional state monies, but some of the funding looks like it’s going to have to come from the county,” he said.
Whether the project will get under way this summer or not depends largely on the county budget process, Thompson added.
“There are still budgetary considerations to take into account,” he said. “When the commissioners deliberate the budget in June they’ll determine whether funding is available for the project.”
The first leg of the project was undertaken in 2008, and involved running a water trunk line from the town limits of Dobson to the boundary of the Interstates District. The county invested $777,487 in local funds to complete the work.
In 2009, the county worked to bring water to the district from the town of Dobson, a project that required the investment of more than $1.2 million in general fund money to complete the work. That project was completed about three years ago.
Gardin said county commissioners have agreed that once funding is secured, work will go forward.
“We’re still getting the local contributions from property owners in the district,” he said. “They’ve made pledges to help invest in both water and sewer, and the county is currently getting those payments from the residents.”
The final hurdle, once funding is secured, is reaching an agreement with the city of Mount Airy for sewage treatment in the district.
“We’ve been in discussions with them for a while now, and have reached a tentative understanding,” Gardin said, “but it’s been placed on the back burner until funding is secured. Both the city and the county have agreed that when the funding is secured the agreement will be finalized.”
To cement the agreement, both city and county governing boards must vote to approve the contract between the two.
“Hopefully, we’ll be able to get things worked out with Mount Airy in the next month or so,” Gardin said.
If work begins this summer, the project could be completed by next spring, he added.
Reach Keith Strange at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1929.