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Locust sewer project set to begin

After two years of planning, the City of Locust is ready to break ground on nearly $1 million worth of sewer improvements.

At their last meeting, council members approved a $977,000 contract with Herrin Industrial to upgrade wastewater facilities on Redah Avenue. The improvements will not only replace aging equipment at the station there, but also enable the system to handle more residential and commercial development in that area.

“It’s something we’ve been looking at for a while,” City Administrator Cesar Correa said.

In fact, council members hired engineers to look into the Redah Station in 2017, he said. At the time, plans called for a smaller scale renovation. However, due to Locust’s growth rate, engineers suggested the system could benefit from more expansive upgrades.

“All of the flow from the development behind Town Center goes to that station,” Correa said.

The final section of a subdivision off Church Street — which may soon be under construction — would also feed into Redah Station if completed.

“As a city, we want to responsibly prepare for the future,” Correa said. “The council approved a larger project budget.”

Financially, the city is in a good place to handle that, too, he added. The council could either use it’s good standing to take out a loan, or decide to pay for the project outright from the wastewater fund’s operating and reserve budgets.

“The city has made significant strides to have that kind of flexibility within its wastewater fund,” Correa said.

In the past, outstanding debt kept the city from investing in extensive sewer improvements, he said. However, last year the city paid off all of its sewer loans, freeing up funds for new sewer projects.

“It’s a decision that seems to be paying off,” Correa said.

The project may be eligible for state funding. The city is working with N.C. Rep. Wayne Sasser (R-Stanly) to apply for a rural development grant to cover costs.

“Those funds are specifically for infrastructure projects in rural cities,” Correa said. “We’ll be requesting $1 million to cover the project.”

Until they hear more from the state, the city will be responsible for the project’s expenses. Contractors are expected to begin work by mid-April.

Shannon Beamon is a freelance contributor for The Stanly News & Press.