Bid awarded for smaller water expansion project

Published 3:16 pm Friday, August 11, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

JACKSON – A project that was initially part of the larger Phase 6 water expansion in Northampton County is expected to proceed soon now that the county commissioners have approved a construction bid.

The matter was discussed during the Board of Commissioners meeting on Aug. 7. Rivers & Associates is the engineering firm handling the county’s ongoing water and sewer projects, and Project Manager Fred Stowe presented the information to the board for their approval on Monday.

This smaller project is a water main extension on Mt. Zion Church Road, which is located in the northern part of the county, near Margarettsville. At a meeting in February this year, the Board of Commissioners gave their permission to remove that road from Phase 6 so that the work could be done separately and sooner.

Board Chair Charles Tyner said at that February meeting that the matter was urgent and people attending the local church “cannot even wash their hands” because of the poor condition of their well water. He repeated those same comments again at the Aug. 7 meeting.

During Monday’s meeting, Stowe explained that they advertised for construction bids in June but received no response, so the process was repeated in July.

“After beating the bushes, we did get one contractor to submit a bid,” Stowe reported.

That bid came from KBS Construction Company, LLC at a total of $229,200. Stowe noted that the engineer’s construction cost estimate was only $153,637, but they still recommended the county award the bid to KBS Construction, contingent upon having the additional funds.

Commissioner Melvetta Broadnax Taylor asked if KBS Construction had all the necessary licenses, insurance, and qualifications to complete the work.

Stowe confirmed yes, and also noted that Rivers & Associates has worked with the company many times before.

Tyner asked for an estimate on when the work would get started. Stowe answered that it could be as soon as a month if the bid was awarded that evening.

County Manager Julian Phillips stated that the additional funds needed for the project were included in the county’s budget.

The News Herald reached out for more information about the budgeted funds, and Phillips explained that they had included in this year’s budget $1.4 million in ARPA funds to be used for water/sewer projects. ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) is federal grant funding.

Phillips also told the News Herald that, along with the church, there are five residences along that water main that can also connect to the line if they desire.

At Monday night’s meeting, without any further discussion, the commissioners voted unanimously to award the contract to KBS Construction. Commissioner Kelvin Edwards provided the motion, and Broadnax Taylor seconded.

Afterwards, Stowe also provided an update on the Phase 6 expansion project when has been in the works for the past few years.

“We are currently completing the final design,” he said. “I think as early as late Fall we’d be in a position to advertise that project.”

Stowe did note, however, that the final design would first need to be approved by the county and then USDA, which is providing funding for the project.

As previously reported by the News Herald, the Phase 6 expansion 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.