Whitfield County Public Works expects to open bids July 20 on six culvert and bridge replacement projects to be paid for with the last of the earmarked 2015 SPLOST funds.
Director DeWayne Hunt says the projects will utilize an innovative public-private contract that has been proven to cut costs on previous projects.
Dir. Hunt says the county should award the bids in late July and construction could start as soon as mid-August or September.
The projects include four pipe replacements on New Hope Church Road near U.S. Express, River Road near Riverdale Road, Ledford Road at Mt. Pleasant Road and Hopewell Road near Creek Road, as well as bridge or culvert replacements on Old Dixie Highway near State Route 3/South Dalton Bypass and Poplar Springs Road at Crow Valley Road.
In an effort to stretch the remaining penny sales tax funds as far as possible, the county will replace the rusted and deteriorating corrugated metal pipes with much stronger reinforced concrete pipes, boxed culverts, or bridges that should last much longer than the metal pipe.
To make the projects more attractive to bidders, the county is seeking so-called hybrid bids, where Public Works will be helping out the contractor with its own crews.
“Public Works forces will act as a subcontractor for all the miscellaneous pieces of work so that the contractor can concentrate on the pipe install,” Hunt explained. “Things like hauling rock, paving, and installing guard rails.”
While the projects will tie up one county crew for an extended period, Hunt believes it’s worth the expected savings.
“One of our four right of way crews will be committed to assisting the contractor, but the project tempo should allow for that crew to complete critical work orders during that time; however the number of work orders will be severely impacted,” Hunt said. “It does impact our day to day schedule, but saving tax dollars is just as important as getting the work completed.”
And cost savings are especially important to the county now, since these six projects are expected to use up all of the remaining $2 million worth of 2015 SPLOST funds set aside for such work.
Many other bridges and pipes are also nearing the end of their life spans throughout the county. Hunt says he’s hoping the state will approve funding soon for a replacement bridge on McGaughey Chapel Road, but any other badly needed future projects would have to be paid for without SPLOST funds for the foreseeable future, unless the proposed 2019 SPLOST is approved by voters.
“We have so many other bridge and culvert projects that are sitting out there and will need to be addressed soon,” Hunt said. “We’re getting by right now, but many of them will need to be replaced within the next three to five years.”