City to borrow more for sewage plant repairs

Jun. 18, 2014 @ 10:01 AM

Repairs at Lenoir’s Gunpowder Wastewater Treatment Plant will cost more than expected, so the Lenoir City Council voted 5-1 Tuesday to borrow an extra $320,000 for the project, bringing the total to $4.17 million.

It’s a zero-interest loan from the state, but council member T.J. Rohr opposed it, saying that he does not support subsidized state loans, and if the project is important enough, the city should pay for it itself.

The city already had borrowed $3.85 million from the state’s Division of Water Infrastructure.

Construction at the plant, at 450 Pine Mountain Road in Hudson, will take 16-18 months, public works director Radford Thomas said, putting the completion date at late 2015 or early 2016.

The repairs are supposed to correct environmental violations that have put the sewage treatment plant on an EPA watch list since January 2013. Among the improvements, a new basin will bring the total number of basins to five, which will give the plant “more time to properly treat the waste when we have high flows due to rain,” Thomas said.

The extra money is needed because of rising prices in materials such as steel and concrete, Thomas said, though starting estimates for projects like this are a “guess at the beginning.”

In other business, the council voted 5-1 to approve a resolution asking the N.C. Department of Transportation to reduce the speed limit one mile outside the city limits on Taylorsville Road, near the entrance for the new William Lenoir Middle School will be.

Rohr was again the lone nay vote, saying a reduced speed limit is not needed because there will be a school zone where drivers will have to reduce their speed.

City Manager Lane Bailey said the idea behind the resolution is to get truck traffic to slow down to 35 miles per hour. The speed limit is currently 55 miles per hour. The resolution does not request a certain speed limit; Bailey said that would be up to NCDOT’s judgment.