The sewer project, which County Water System Director Stephen McCullers, P.E. said is the largest single project the county has ever done, is expected to be completed in 2014. Construction on the 30,000-foot-long tunnel started in July 2008. The tunnel will sit 200 to 400 feet below ground and 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."
To construct the tunnel, the county is expected to acquire almost 200 easements, McCullers said. The board approved the condemnation of one of those Thursday. McCullers said the county had to condemn about 40 of the 300 easements the county acquired for the Chattahoochee Tunnel.
McCullers said the property owners, Marvin and Teresa Adams, did 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. "We offer them $250 for running the tunnel under their property, and an additional $1 per foot that is used. 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.
One of those GEFA payments was authorized with a 5-0 vote during the meeting.
At the beginning of the meeting, Commission Chairman Sam Olens and the rest of the board members presented 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. Cooper, who also served as a county commissioner for eight years, will step down from his position at the end of this year.
"We know you're not dying and will still be active in the community, but we thought it was only appropriate to honor you and show our appreciation before you retired at the end of this month," Olens said.
Cooper said, "Having been up here for eight years, I know how much this means to people, and it's really special and meaningful to me. Thank you so much for this."
The meeting conducted on Thursday instead of the fourth Tuesday of the month, when it is regularly conducted, because of the holiday season.