DOT: Salisbury knew of potential 'utility conflicts' with N.C. 70 widening

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Mark Wineka
N.C. Department of Transportation officials say they are not the villain in the city of Salisbury’s having to pay $440,000 for relocation of a waterline in a U.S. 70 construction area.
“At the time approval was given for the waterline in January 2006,” Division Engineer Pat Ivey told the Post by e-mail, “the construction plans for the U.S. 70 project were incomplete, and everyone was aware of that.
“Afterward, NCDOT simply added the required drainage structures and right-of-way components to the plans, which resulted in utility conflicts with our project.”
Ivey said the city of Salisbury understood the risk, clearly stated in the special provisions of the encroachment contract city officials signed in 2006.
Special Provision No. 23 in the encroachment contract, signed by City Manager David Treme, says “any encroachment determined to be in conflict with the construction of this project shall be removed and/or relocated at the owner’s expense.”
The Salisbury City Council learned July 15 that the city would have to pay for the relocation of four segments of waterline that were installed as an emergency connection between Salisbury and Statesville in 2006.
Those segments of 16-inch waterline are now in the way of the last widening project for U.S. 70, a 5.5-mile segment between the Freightliner plant in Cleveland and the Rowan-Iredell line.
When Salisbury and Statesville collaborated on the waterline, to be owned by Salisbury, their utility departments thought they were avoiding future conflicts with a widened U.S. 70.
But as Ivey pointed out, drainage structures connected with the road will impact the existing waterline in four spots.
The city’s cost of moving the 1,786 linear feet of waterline in question is $440,162.
Ivey said comments posted on the Web site and statements made from the council’s meeting July 15 seemed to put the blame on the DOT. But the DOT did not make any “changes or unanticipated additions” to the project from its end, Ivey said, referring to a memo that Salisbury-Rowan Utilities Interim Director Jim Behmer had issued.
“We have an excellent working relationship with the city,” Ivey said, “and it is unfortunate that the public is left with the impression that NCDOT created this problem, when in fact, we have done everything possible to accommodate the city in our plans.”
Ivey reiterated that the state agency has been working with the city to minimize the cost of the relocation as much as possible.
The contract for the road project is expected to be awarded in September. It represents the last section (of five total) in the widening of U.S. 70 between Salisbury and Statesville.