As 2016 comes to an end, a city/county project nearing completion will deliver sanitary sewer services to businesses and homes along N.C. 89 west of Mount Airy.
The sewer project — extending from the edge of the city limits to just beyond I-77 — began in late 2015, but due to a few delays, it won’t quite conclude by year’s end.
“They hit some rock,” said Larry Phillips, Surry County commissioner.
Phillips said work crews hit rock (a common issue in and around the Granite City) when boring near I-77. The issue led to equipment failures.
The commissioner noted the existence of rock will not cost the Surry County taxpayer any additional funds, and the lines up to the point at which rock was hit have already been installed.
According to the website of contractor Smith-Rowe, LLC, the project had been set to wrap up back in July.
The project was a long time in the making for some members of the community. Many property owners along N.C. 89 had expected sewer services to follow shortly after local government ran public water to the Interstates Water and Sewer District in 2010.
However, the sewer project didn’t get off the ground quickly, and in the end the project was approved by the Surry County Board of Commissioners by way of a 3-2 vote. Phillips spearheaded a financial study which weighed the long-term tax benefits of the projects against its costs.
Subsequently, he joined then-Commissioners Paul Johnson and Jimmy Miller in their votes to award the contracts for the sewer line.
Work began on the project in September 2015 and continues into 2017. The initial construction project cost the county $4.9 million. However, the total cost of the project, when engineering fees, easements and other associated costs are accounted for, is much closer to $6 million.
Since the vote that moved the project forward, and long after Smith-Rowe broke ground on the project, a handful of property owners west of I-77 asked county officials to consider extending to them.
Three property owners agreed to foot 50 percent of the $301,600 bill to extend the system to their properties. Commissioners approved the change order in October.
Phillips said he received an email regarding the status of the project in mid-December. At that point in time, clearing had begun and construction on the extension was expected to be complete within 90 days.
The water side of business in the Interstates District made for big news in Dobson in 2016.
The town had been providing water services to the district since 2010. A water line runs north from the county seat; a water tower in the Pine Ridge area allows the town to service its water tower at Shelton Vineyards without disrupting water service to its customers.
In addition to providing the water, Dobson has also been maintaining the lines. Thus, town officials wanted to permanently retain the business when the county sought to hand off the system in 2016.
Mount Airy, which will provide the sewer service for the district also sought to acquire the water system and its business. However, a move in the direction of the city would have cost the county $270,000 to make the current system compatible with the city’s setup.
A move to hand off the system permanently to Dobson was both cost-free and seamless for water customers, and county commissioners voted to pass the baton to the town in May.
Later the town agreed to handle billing for the city for sewer services, since sewer service is billed using water usage data.
Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.