Sewage tunnel to cost $54M

LAWRENCEVILLE - Construction could soon begin on a sewage tunnel big enough for a subway in southern Gwinnett.

The Water & Sewerage Authority Monday approved a $54 million contract with a joint venture between Mole, Jay Dee, Kassouf and Murray Hill companies to build the three-mile, 12-foot-diameter tunnel 200 feet below the earth. County commissioners will consider giving final approval today.

"This is some of the original area of the county that had sewer but only a very limited capacity. So this is about keeping pace with development and redevelopment in the area," Water Resources Director Frank Stephens said. "Tunnels may be a part of our long-range solution" for sewer in Gwinnett County.

The tunnel, which will be bored with machinery used to build subway tunnels, will connect the county's Jacks Creek sewage treatment plant with the now-defunct No Business Creek sewage plant site. From there, south Gwinnett's sewage will be pumped to the F. Wayne Hill Water Resources Center in Buford.

When the project is complete in 2010, the Jacks Creek plant will be shut down, as part of the county's long-range plan to close its smaller, less-efficient facilities.

While officials are recommending the lower of the two bids for the project, about $3 million had to be added to the budget to accommodate the price, asset manager George Kaffezakis said

"We're drilling through hard rock 95 percent of the way," he said of the reason for the cost.

Kaffezakis said the county tried to minimize the number of easements needed for the project and set the route mostly underneath Springdale/Everson Road. He said he doesn't believe the project goes under anyone's house, but residents may feel a low rumble - "like a subway car in the distance" - as the tunnel is drilled.