DOBSON — Following an update by County Manager Chris Knopf, the Surry County Board of Commissioners unanimously voted to seek another engineering firm to take over the much-anticipated Interstates Sewer Project.
The action came as the board met for its regularly scheduled meeting in the Commissioners Meeting Room at the county government center in Dobson Monday.
During his update, Knopf noted that the engineering firm, Hobbs Upchurch & Associates, had been going through some internal turmoil, with the county’s engineer and grant writer departing the firm.
Following weeks of trying to determine the next move, Knopf said he was prepared to recommend the board choose another engineer to get the project back on track.
One of the problems, he said, was that Hobbs Upchurch & Associates had possession of the work completed to date, documents and drawings needed by the chosen firm.
But that seems to be a problem that is being resolved.
“Early last week, I received multiple copies of work completed to date on the Interstates Sewer Collection System and the Force Main connection to the city of Mount Airy,” he said, noting that one critical piece was missing.
“Absent from this information was a release from Hobbs Upchurch to allow another engineering firm to bid and construct these systems utilizing their work,” Knopf said.
But last Friday, the county’s attorney alerted Knopf that said release is expected to be drafted and executed.
The county is expected to receive the release today, according to the county manager.
“Assuming the release comes through as expected, I recommend that the county move forward in selecting a new engineer for the project,” Knopf said.
Following his update, Commissioner Paul Johnson made a motion that the county begin working with Galax, Va.-based engineering firm Adams Heath.
“We have a relationship with them, and I think at this crucial point in the project it would be in the county’s best interest to begin working with a firm with which we have a good relationship,” Johnson said.
With a second by Commissioner Jimmy Miller, Johnson’s motion passed unanimously, with Commissioner Eddie Harris absent.
But that doesn’t mean shovels will be in the ground in the next few days, Knopf said during his update.
The county is facing a time crunch since the city of Mount Airy has requested additional information about the $4.5 million combined gravity and force-main system, information that will not be available without engineering work.
The city has pledged $1 million to the project, provided the county uses the combined system.
“The primary task initially will be to develop a new project scope that will include the proposed new gravity lines and the available funding to date,” he said. “(Adams Heath will) also be responsible for designing the new gravity system to be located in the vicinity of Gentry Middle and North Surry schools as well as securing (multiple) permits.”
Knopf said the design work will take about five months to complete once the engineering firm is on board.
“One wild card in the process will be the new engineers’ comfort level in working with the specifications provided by Hobbs Upchurch, and the (five month) timeline assumes any issues will be minimal,” he said.
Reach Keith Strange at email@example.com or 719-1929.