A project in the works since the late 1990s which involved extending sewer service from Mount Airy to west of town along the N.C. 89 corridor, encountering many crooks and turns in between, is finally complete.
That declaration was made Thursday during a meeting of the Mount Airy Public Works Committee at City Hall, where a wide range of utility updates were provided — including the long-anticipated Interstates Water and Sewer District project. It involved a joint effort between Mount Airy and Surry County.
“People are requesting connections,” City Engineer Mitch Williams said at the meeting regarding the new sanitary sewer system stretching to an area beyond interstates 74 and 77 and including businesses, homes and schools along the way.
“We’re telling them it’s ready to go,” Williams said.
Referring to a list of projects updated during the periodic meetings of the city Public Works Committee, the engineer added that Thursday was probably the last time the Interstates Water and Sewer District/N.C. 89 sewer extension would be mentioned.
It was marked “complete” on the list for Thursday’s session, “with the exception of a change-order line they ran up to White’s diesel,” Williams said of an addition to the final plans involving a business just west of Interstate 77.
Officials of Surry County — the lead agency for the project — first began working on the massive utility infrastructure-extension effort in the late 1990s, when property owners in the area approached them with the proposal.
The first leg of the project, undertaken in 2008, involved running a water trunk line from the town limits of Dobson to the boundary of the Interstates district.
In 2009, county officials launched efforts to bring water to the district from Dobson.
The final piece of the puzzle was the extension of sewer infrastructure along the N.C. 89 corridor from Mount Airy, which began in 2015.
However, funding and other hurdles had to be overcome before that occurred, including securing state and federal grants for a project that has a final price tag of $6.2 million. That includes construction costs, engineering fees, easements and other associated expenses. Mount Airy committed $1 million.
There also were debates over whether the sewer extension should be a gravity, or forced-main system to a cluster of businesses in the Brintle’s Truck Stop area. Officials settled on a combination of the two, since a gravity component would more easily enable tap-ons by property owners along the way.
It includes a force-main portion to Maple Hollow Road, gravity sewer along N.C. 89 from Maple Hollow Road to Gentry Middle and North Surry High schools and a force-main from Stewarts Creek back to Mount Airy.
County official pleased
Eddie Harris, the chairman of the Surry County Board of Commissioners, said Friday that he is glad to see the N.C. 89 sewer project reach fruition.
“It was a long time coming,” Harris said of an effort he has dealt with since being elected to the county board in 2010.
He praised the joint effort among local government units to make the entire water and sewer infrastructure installations possible, and ensure everything is successful going forward.
“Obviously, we are all interconnected — Dobson had the water — so we all have to work together to make it work,” Harris said.
The county chairman added that he is looking forward to folks in the affected area hooking on to the sewer system, given the septic tank problems experienced by some. He pointed to how it also will benefit the two schools that have experienced waste-disposal issues over the years.
Williams, the city engineer, said inquiries about hookups have come from entities including Scenic Outlet, a longtime business near the intersection of N.C. 89 and Interstate 77.
Harris is hoping the new utility service benefits not only existing businesses, but stimulates the growth of additional ones.
“I hope there is some economic development out there and there is some increases in the tax base,” said the county board chairman.
That will be an upside to the $6.2 million expenditure involved, he said.
“I certainly hope this project is a benefit for Surry County and Mount Airy…and I hope the citizens realize the economic benefits of it,” Harris commented.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.