GAINESVILLE — As early as September, more residents north of Thompson Bridge will be able to tap into the Gainesville sewer system.
On Tuesday, the Gainesville City Council voted to award two construction contracts, for improvements on a sewage pump station and a force main that will travel alongside Ga. 60 from Fieldale Farms’ Murrayville plant to the Linwood Water Reclamation Facility.
The improvements will increase the capacity of the Thompson Bridge Road sewage pump station from about 1.5 million gallons per day to 4 million gallons per day and will be easily expandable, said Gainesville Public Utilities Director Kelly Randall.
"The current facility is at capacity," Randall said. "If we don’t expand it, there can’t be any additional growth on sanitary sewer north of the bridge."
"We couldn’t give anybody any additional sewer availability letters because all of the sewer (north of Thompson Bridge) is spoken for."
The project will open up the possibility for more sewer customers north of Thompson Bridge — some of which have been forced to wait on their developments and rezonings due to lack of sewer capacity — and means more sewage capacity for the Fieldale Farms Murrayville plant, which currently pumps 1.1 million gallons of sewage per day down a 12-inch force main to the Flat Creek Wastewater Treatment Facility.
Fieldale is footing about 30 percent of the cost of the construction, and when the project is complete, the poultry processing plant will be able to pump nearly twice the sewage to the Linwood plant, Randall said.
These Thompson Bridge sewer improvements were spared when many other sewer projects were cut as a result of the drought’s effect on the utility department’s income.
Randall said the department decided to go forward with this project, because the department had already made sewer commitments to Fieldale and interested
developers, and the project was already underway.
The first phase of the project was completed last summer.Last summer, the utility department spent $500,000 installing a 20-inch force main on the south side of Thompson Bridge.
That 20-inch pipe is dry for now, and lies unused next to the working 12-inch pipe, waiting for the completion of the pump station and the rest of the pipe.
Those improvements, now only waiting on a notice to proceed to the two chosen contractors, should be complete by September, Randall said.
Officials from the Gainesville Public Utilities Department chose to award the construction for the pump station improvements to Lanier Contracting Co. and the contract for the force main improvements to Gary’s Grading and Pipeline Co. after receiving bids for the jobs in early February.
The two contracts total about $3.2 million.
"Pipeline contractors don’t necessarily build pump stations, and pump station contractors don’t necessarily lay pipe," Randall said. "We do two contracts so we can really attract contractors to their specialty."
Both Lanier Contracting Co. and Gary’s Grading and Pipeline Co. submitted the lowest bids for the respective jobs, but neither is a Gainesville-based company. The council has talked about amending Gainesville’s code to allow the city to show preference to local contractors even when they do not submit the lowest bid for a construction contract.
One council member expressed his desire to have contractors resubmit the bids for this particular project when it was discussed during last Thursday’s council work session.
Councilman Danny Dunagan said rebidding the project would give the council time to amend its ordinances in a way that would allow the city to prefer local contractors who came within a small percentage of the lowest bid.
However, Dunagan agreed that the city should proceed with the current bids for the project after Assistant Utility Director Tim Collins said rebidding the job could delay construction for another three to five months.
The council voted unanimously on Tuesday to award the contracts.