The bid from Merkel Brothers Construction of Greeneville came in more than $500,000 less than was anticipated and will allow the town to move forward with construction of a new effluent pump station needed to complete the project. Located on Britt Drive about a half-mile west of Jonesborough’s downtown historic district, the water treatment plant is undergoing a major expansion that is being conducted in two phases of construction.
The first phase of the project includes two new 500,000-gallon treatment basins that will triple the plant’s capacity and allow for expanded use of the Washington Industrial Park on U.S. Highway 11E in Telford. Estimated at a cost of $5.5 million, the basins’ construction began in May 2012 and is currently nearing completion. Phase two of the project includes the new outfall line and, with the board’s approval of Merkel’s low bid Monday, a new pump station that will carry the plant’s effluent away from Little Limestone Creek that runs downtown six miles southwest along Highway 81 South to the river.
The cost of the second phase of the project is estimated at $4.525 million and is being funded through a $2.21 million loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of Rural Development, a grant from the U.S. Economic Development Authority, a matching $815,000 Rural Development grant and a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
With the award of the outfall line construction contract, the board met the deadline requirement for the EDA grant funding and designated the more than $500,000 in savings on the estimated cost of the line toward the construction of the pump station that had previously been removed from the project until other funding sources could be secured.
Designs for the pump station have been completed and are currently being reviewed for approval by Rural Development. After approval, the designs must then be reviewed and approved by the EDA before the construction can finally be put out for bid. Jonesborough Mayor Kelly Wolfe said with the EDA and Rural Development grants, the town will be able to complete the $4.5 million project at a cost of a little more $2.2 million.
“Our goal is to get them digging as soon as possible,” Wolfe said.
The plant expansion has also been funded through a combination of Rural Development loans and grants and a $500,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission.
In other business, the town approved an agreement with Norfolk Southern Railroad for construction of a signaled railroad crossing gate required for completion of a connecting section for the proposed walking trail from Persimmon Ridge Park through the downtown historic district to Mill Springs Park. The new section of walking trail from the current Persimmon Ridge trail head at Barley Creek Park on West Main Street to Mill Springs Park is being funded with a grant from the Tennessee Department of Transportation. Because the trail will come within 200 feet of the Second Avenue railroad crossing, the Federal Highway Administration requires a signaled crossing gate at the intersection.
According to Town Administrator Bob Browning, funding for construction of the $250,000 gate that will be designed and constructed by Norfolk Southern has also been secured from TDOT through the regional Metropolitan Planning Organization.
While plans for the gate and a final cost estimate are still being developed by Norfolk Southern, the board voted Monday to approve the construction agreement with the railroad and allow Browning to execute the construction contract pending its review by Town Attorney Jim Wheeler.