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Salisbury must pay $440,000 to relocate sections of waterline

By Mark Wineka
mwineka@salisburypost.com
Four segments of a waterline put in as an emergency connection between Salisbury and Statesville will have to be relocated for the last part of the U.S. 70 widening.
The bad news for Salisbury: the relocations mean it will have to reimburse the N.C. Department of Transportation an estimated $440,162.
If the city didn’t agree to pay for the 1,786 linear feet of 16-inch waterline that has to be moved, DOT Division Engineer Pat Ivey said, it could hold up the awarding of a contract in September on the last U.S. 70 project.
That final project (the last of five) extends from the Freightliner truck plant in Cleveland to the Rowan-Iredell line.
Ivey said having no contract in September would force the project into the federal government’s next fiscal year. It could mean the shift of highway dollars elsewhere and the project’s being postponed indefinitely, he warned.
“It could create a major issue,” he said.
Drainage structures, not the road itself, will run afoul of the waterline, according to the latest highway design.
Jim Behmer, interim utilities director for Salisbury, said the 5.5-mile waterline was originally installed to avoid conflicts with the road project, “however, certain unanticipated design changes and additions to the NCDOT project have resulted in a need for these relocations.”
Several Salisbury City Council members expressed frustration Tuesday that if the city refused to pay the relocation costs, it would be blamed for the U.S. 70 project’s not being completed.
“We almost have no choice,” Mayor Susan Kluttz said.
The line in question was actually installed by Statesville even though it’s on the Rowan County side. Statesville spent $2.8 million on the emergency interconnection project. Both cities reached an agreement in March 2003, just after Statesville faced serious water supply concerns in the drought of 2002.
Gov. Mike Easley pushed for the interconnection, and the state supplied a $800,000 grant.
The interconnection could supply either city up to 2 million gallons of water a day, if it is ever needed in an emergency situation.
Councilman Mark Lewis asked why Statesville wasn’t paying for the line relocation. “This is just ridiculous,” he said. “… Ratepayers will pay for this.”
Treme said Statesville’s cost in the interconnection line was three times what it had originally estimated. Plus, it was turning ownership of the line over to Salisbury-Rowan Utilities. Statesville determined it had no responsibility for the relocation costs.
On the positive sign, Treme said, the city will benefit from a $2.8 million line, new customers who connect to the line and any water it receives from Statesville.
The Salisbury-Rowan Utilities staff also will keep working to reduce the $440,000 price tag, Treme and Behmer said. The relocation costs started at a much higher number than the one presented to council Tuesday, Treme said.
Ivey said Nancy Dunn, who represents the five-county division on the N.C. Board of Transportation, also is trying to work with DOT officials in Raleigh to reduce the costs to Salisbury.
The reluctant City Council voted 4-0 Tuesday to approve a “Supplemental Utility Agreement” with the DOT in which Salisbury-Rowan Utilities will reimburse the state for the water-line relocations.
Treme said the money would have to come from existing capital funds, revenue bonds or through an installment pay plan with the DOT.

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