The city of Statesboro is moving forward with two $1 million-plus pipeline projects, miles outside the city limits in nearly opposite directions. One is part of Statesboro's farthest extension of water and sewer thus far, while the other will replace an endangered, 60-year-old underwater natural gas supply line.
City Council awarded a $1.1 million contract Tuesday to Tyson Utilities Construction for Phase 3 of the water and sewer expansion to the Interstate 16 interchange on U.S. Highway 301. This is the final phase of a larger project, jointly funded by the city and county, to bring utilities to Bulloch County's tax allocation district that includes, but is not limited to, the industrial park east of U.S. 301 and south of I-16.
Three years in construction, and with costs now approaching $10 million, the plan extended water and sewer lines about five miles, stubbing 12-inch mains to all four quadrants of the interchange to serve future commercial and residential development, as well as industry. Phase I included a million gallon water tower for the industrial park. The city also extended a natural gas line into the park last year.
"With Phases 1, 2 and 3 complete, we'll have water and sewer to all four quadrants," said city Water and Wastewater Director Van Collins.
Phase 3, the last phase, consists mainly of sewer infrastructure, he explained. This will include gravity-operated sewer lines plus a second sewer pumping station. A two-inch diameter water main is also included, but this will just be to provide water for the city's use at the pumping station. The 12-inch water mains are already in place.
Meanwhile, Phase 2 is still underway.
"Phase 2 is almost complete. Probably in the next three to four months, it should be complete," Collins told City Council.
Phase 3 has a 180-day timeline, he said.
"Then we're done," Mayor Jan Moore interjected.
"Pretty much," Collins said. He explained that, with approval from the joint city-county Technical Review Committee that coordinates the project, his department has held onto about $200,000 by cutting short the water and sewer mains into the industrial park.
The county doesn't know yet where development will take place in the park and may shift a planned road. So the $200,000 will be available to build in the right direction when the park's first tenant arrives, Collins said.
Tyson's bid of $1,108,897 was the lowest of three received from area contractors. The other bids, from Southeastern Civil and Y-Delta, were each less than $1.2 million, so all were below the city's $1.5 million budget projection.
At this point, construction costs to provide the I-16 Tax Allocation District with water and sewer total $8.3 million, Collins said Wednesday. Both the city and county committed Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax funds to the project, and the county agreed to fund the first $6 million of the water and sewer extension. The county has now fulfilled that commitment, and also paid $26,705 for a change in the water tower logo, County Manager Tom Couch confirmed.
So the remainder of the cost will be the city's, county and city officials said this week.
Back in November 2014, the city also awarded a contractor $1.1 million to extend a natural gas line about four miles to the industrial park from Georgia Highway 46. Statesboro already owned natural gas pipelines from Screven County to Metter in Candler County.
Gas under Ogeechee
The natural gas pipeline proposal that moved forward Tuesday is a different sort, replacing outmoded infrastructure instead of expanding in a new direction. Installed in 1955, the pipeline that brings gas to Statesboro's city network passes from Screven County to Bulloch County under the Ogeechee River, explained Steve Hotchkiss, Natural Gas Department director.
Supported on pilings and piers, the high-pressure pipeline itself remains in fair condition but is exposed under water in the shifting river channel, he said. Sometimes, when the river is low, the pipeline becomes visible.
"That's our only feed into town," Hotchkiss said. "That brings all the gas into Statesboro, and we need to make sure that that approach line doesn't get compromised by erosion in that river channel."
For years, city officials have been intending to replace the pipeline. With a budget projection of $1.2 million from SPLOST and natural gas revenues, the project but is now moving to the detailed planning phase.
The council unanimously authorized the mayor to sign a contract with AMEC Foster Wheeler for engineering services on the project, at fees not to exceed $120,000.
Hotchkiss said he hopes the engineering work and bid process can be completed in time for construction to go forward in early 2017. The actual specifications will be determined by the engineering work, but Hotchkiss said he expects about 5,000 feet, or a little less than a mile, of the pipeline to be replaced, and for the bore to pass 15 to 20 feet beneath the river bottom, eliminating the risk of the pipeline being exposed.
Environmental concerns were a factor in the choice of an engineering firm, Hotchkiss said.
"AMEC Foster Wheeler does have their own in-house environmental people who can do environmental assessment and environmental permitting and anything that we need associated with this sensitive wetland area," he said.
Herald reporter Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.