Engineering OK’d For Route 50 Sewer Project

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Further engineering on the proposed Route 50W sanitary sewer project was authorized Tuesday by the Athens County Commissioners.

The commissioners authorized HDR Engineering of Columbus to do 30 percent of the design engineering. The overall project would provide sanitary sewer service to an area that includes subdivisions west of Athens.

County Commission President Lenny Eliason said having 30 percent of the engineering completed will allow the county to have better cost estimates to take to public meetings on the project. It also will allow the county to show homeowners where the sewer lines will go.

According to a timeline provided to the commissioners by Kyle Schwieterman of HDR Engineering, public meetings on the project are slated to take place in April or May.

Commissioner Chris Chmiel asked if the project would be halted if residents opposed it. Eliason said he thinks a vast majority of property owners will favor the project, but if a majority opposed it the project could be stopped. However, that could change if the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency orders the county to provide sanitary sewer service.

The commissioners were able to give the OK for the engineering because the city of Athens and the county have reached an agreement under which the city will treat the sewage with its treatment plant. Earlier this month, City Council passed an ordinance authorizing the city service-safety director to enter into the agreement, and the commissioners are expected to approve it at their meeting next week.

Having that agreement on sewage treatment ties down a key element of the project, allowing engineering to go forward.

At Tuesday's commissioners' meeting, Commissioner Charlie Adkins wanted to know if the agreement would lock the county into using city treatment if the county wanted to expand the service area in the future.

Eliason said it does not. The county would still have the option of building its own treatment plant if the number of customers expanded to the point of making it financially feasible, he said.

Under the agreement, the city is agreeing to treat the equivalent of 1,500 single households. Essentially, the city would provide treatment for existing residential and commercial development in the area, with only a little room for growth.

The county would pay the city a $3.9 million capacity fee for use of the treatment plant.