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Gainesville votes to build pump station; sewer lines may not come soon
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Sewer service is coming to the south side of Gainesville — one day.

A sewer contract approved Tuesday will make way for sewer service along Athens Highway, but construction of sewer lines could be years away.

The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to let Mid-South Builders Inc. build a sewage pump station and force main off Athens Highway for $2.43 million.

The pump station will have the ability to pump as much as 2 million gallons of sewage to the Flat Creek Wastewater Reclamation Facility each day, said Kelly Randall, director of the city’s Public Utilities Department.

The first of a three-phase sewer expansion, the Athens Highway project approved Tuesday will eventually make sewer service available in an area of Athens Highway stretching from Monroe Drive to Gillsville Highway.

The second and third phases of the project — to actually extend gravity sewer lines from the pump station to Monroe Drive and Gillsville Highway — will have to wait on the economy.

Those final phases of the sewer extension were pushed off the department’s five-year capital improvements plan early last year, when it was apparent that sewer and water revenues had been hit hard by state-imposed restrictions on water use and the slump in the housing market.

However, Randall said the timing of the second and third phases of the projects could change depending on the demand from the development community.

"If projects came to us and are ready to go, we’ll do it quicker rather than later," Randall said.

Yet, moving forward with the construction of the pump station now, Randall said, will have the department ready to serve when the economy turns around and commercial development resumes.

"Now, we’ll be poised to those development pressures in that corridor," Randall said.

Although the economy significantly has impacted the department’s revenues, it did help the department snag a price for the pump station construction that was lower than expected. The department’s 2008 funding plan shows utility officials expected to pay at least $4 million for the project.

Randall says the department will not have to borrow any money to pay for the construction of the pump station, force main and the access road to the pump station. The project, at least this phase, will be funded with cash the department has on hand, he said.

On Tuesday, the council also approved funding for construction at a new 171-acre industrial park on New Harvest Road and the $19.2 million construction of the city’s future Public Safety and Fire Station No. 1 buildings.

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