The city of Fort Oglethorpe recently awarded a bid for the first phase of its planned sewerage project along U.S. Highway 41, with three additional phases to follow in the years to come.

During the Oct. 23 City Council meeting, Public Utilities Director Phil Parker presented the mayor and council with bid results for the work, which will begin along Mack Smith Road toward I-75.

Parker explained that only one bid came in for the work, and that his staff was able to negotiate with the contractor in order to get the first-phase work within budget.

"We received bids for this project in September, and we actually only received one bid, which was $1.9 million to do this project," Parker said. "This exceeded our current budget. We have negotiated with the contractor through our engineer and have made some changes to the project in addition to negotiations for reductions on costs in the project. We are recommending to award to Brown Brothers Construction for $1,398,499.75, and this will get us to the other side of interstate 75."

Parker says this initial phase is part of a four-phase project that'll eventually benefit the city all the way to the state line.

"Phase I of the project will go from the existing Mack Smith Road interceptor sewer to just past I-75," Parker said. "The proposed phase II will pick up from the end of phase I and go north along Scruggs Road to the Tennessee state line, and then cross east toward U.S. 41. We will cross U.S. 41 near Hillsdale Lane, but the project never enters Tennessee. Phases III & IV are expected to take the sewer expansion south along U.S. 41 to Cloud Springs Road and end near I-75. However phases III and IV have not been designed yet and the routing is subject to change."

City Manager Jennifer Payne-Simpkins says that while the city is footing the bill for the first phase of the work, it will explore all possibilities of how to fund the remainder of the project.

"This is the only phase of construction that has been bid and awarded, and this phase will be funded with existing city bond proceeds," Payne-Simpkins said. "For all other proposed phases, we are looking into alternative funding sources. Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA) low-interest loans are an option, though we do not intend to submit a loan application in the near future for GEFA funds for the expansion project. Sewer expansion is economic development, and it will benefit the entire county. We are currently exploring other options in partnership with the County for funding future proposed phases."

Adam Cook is a general assignment reporter and covers the Walker-Catoosa County area. He has been a reporter since 2009. He can be reached at The Catoosa County News office at 706-935-2621 and by email at acook@npco.com.