Commissioners hear updates on Northampton water projects

Published 5:07 pm Tuesday, February 14, 2023

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JACKSON – Several water projects in Northampton are progressing forward, even though the commissioners would like some to move more swiftly.

Fred Stowe, Project Manager from Rivers and Associates, appeared before the commissioners to provide updates at their regular meeting on Feb. 6.

He first noted that a small project to relocate water/sewer mains on NCHS-East Road was almost complete. That project was necessary for the NCDOT to proceed with a bridge replacement on that road. Stowe explained that the relocation project remained within budget, and NCDOT should begin their bridge work soon.

The commissioners also received an update on the Phase 6 water expansion, a project which has been in the works for the past few years.

“We are currently in the final design phase on that project. My hope is that we have that phase of the project completed by the end of this month. We are a little bit behind schedule,” Stowe reported, but also noted that he didn’t think this delay would impact the project’s overall schedule.

“We’re working very diligently right now to try to keep on that schedule,” he emphasized.

Once the design phase is complete, Stowe said they would then secure USDA permits and advertise bids for the project. If all goes well, construction could start by late summer.

Stowe also said they intended to work on water system improvements on Severn Road and Elam Church Road simultaneously with the Phase 6 project.

“The plan is to move those projects forward at the same time,” he explained.

As previously reported by the News Herald, the Phase 6 expansion project is expected to bring county water to over 200 households which currently rely on well water. Most of the roads included in the project are located in the northeastern part of the county, but there are also two roads near Lake Gaston.

In July 2021, the commissioners received notice that the USDA Rural Development loan for the project – in the amount of just under $5 million – had been officially approved. The loan is scheduled for repayment over a 40-year period, with the first payment being due following the completion of the project.

At Monday’s meeting, however, the commissioners were more concerned about work needing to be done on Mt. Zion Church Road.

Stowe said he’d received confirmation from USDA that they could remove that road from the Phase 6 project to work on separately and sooner. They just needed permission from the county to move forward.

County Manager Julian Phillips said they had already sent a notice to proceed, but they would resend it again.

“Let’s get that going,” said Board Chair Charles Tyner, who explained that people attending the local church “cannot even wash their hands” right now.

Commissioner Melvetta Broadnax Taylor asked what the timeline would be for the Mt. Zion Church Road project.

Stowe explained that they still needed to secure permits and put out bids for the project, a process which typically takes three months before construction begins. So he estimated it could be summer before that began.

Tyner urged them to move as quickly as possible, and Stowe agreed that they would.

With no further discussion after that, Tyner thanked Stowe for the presentation.