South Cobb Tunnel project to be approved
by Katy Ruth Camp
krcamp@mdjonline.com
December 16, 2009 01:00 AM | 2122 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
COBB COUNTY - The Cobb County Board of Commissioners is expected to approve two agenda items related to the South Cobb Tunnel project this week. Because of the holiday season, commissioners will meet at 6 p.m. Thursday instead of their regular meeting time on the fourth Tuesday of each month.

The sewer project, which County Water System Director Stephen McCullers, P.E. said is the largest single project the county has ever done, will cost approximately $305 million and is expected to be completed in 2014.

Construction on the 30,000-foot-long tunnel started in July 2008. The tunnel, which will be 27 feet in diameter, will sit 200 feet to 400 feet below ground. It will run along the southern county line, starting at Old Alabama Road, then turn east and run almost parallel to Interstate 20. It will connect to existing sewer lines near Sweetwater Creek on the west and the South Cobb treatment plant near Six Flags on the east.

"This project will eliminate the Sweetwater and Nickajack pump stations, and provide needed flow equalization for the South Cobb treatment plant," McCullers said. "If we had not moved forward with the tunnel project, we would have needed to replace and expand both of these pump stations, upsize miles of existing gravity sewers and force mains, and construct equalization basins. While these projects would have cost on the order of $250 million, they would have been much more expensive to operate and replace in the future. We estimate that the tunnel will save us about $100 million over the next 100 years in discounted life cycle costs."

McCullers said that the county is expected to acquire almost 200 easements to develop the project, which is far fewer than the 300 that were acquired with the county's 2001-05 Chattahoochee Tunnel.

The board is expected to approve the condemnation of one of the South Cobb Tunnel's easements on Thursday.

McCullers said the property owners, Marvin and Teresa Adams, simply do not want to work with the county because of an issue they claim to have had with the county in the past.

"They are out of state, and there is no house on the property, only a cell tower. Regardless, they will get the money, and everything is handled administratively. So they are not being taken to court," McCullers said.

McCullers said condemnation is common with tunnel construction. He said the county had to condemn about 40 easements with the Chattahoochee Tunnel.

"We offer them $250 for running the tunnel under their property, and an additional $1 per foot that is used," McCullers said. "It doesn't impact the home's value, and you really don't even know it is there."

Most of the funding for the tunnel is expected to come from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, administered by the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority, but some may be paid by the county over time, McCullers said.

The county is expected to approve one of those GEFA payments on Thursday.

The board is also expected to approve the purchase, demolition and removal of a home at 6310 Burnt Hickory Road for $138,000. The home is located in the floodplain. The county attempted to acquire the property in April 2006, but failed to when the property owner and county could not agree on the value of the property. Following sewer flooding to the property in September, however, the owner accepted the initial offer.

At the beginning of the meeting, Commission Chairman Sam Olens will present retiring Cobb Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Bill Cooper with a proclamation, recognizing him for his several years of service to the county in various executive roles.
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