By Nicole Stokes
The Franklin County Board of Supervisors reviewed bids on Monday, June 6 related to a bridge replacement project on Middleton Creek Road and voted to move forward with the work.
The two bids received by the county were opened on Friday, May 28 — one from Dozer Inc., in the amount of $680,706 and another from G. Rayborn Construction totaling $746,317.
The board accepted the low bid from Dozer Inc., with a contingency requested by county engineer Mike McKenzie.
“The way these precast bridges get built, there are standard drawings that we use that precast yards build all exactly the same,” McKenzie told the panel.
“So that standard drawing — with that steel in the certain place and the dimensions and everything just right — has been load-rated by an engineer at State Aid, so we know it’ll carry a certain load.
“Forterra, one of the precast yards, made what would, from a common-sense perspective, seem to be a very minor change. They changed the way you pick (the precast bridge slabs) up.”
He went on to explain the former method of lifting the slabs involved threading bolts into four holes, two on each end of the rectangular slab, and took more time than the new method.
“They changed it to where it’s just a little divot in the concrete with a piece of rebar there and you just take a hook and snap it and pick it up off the ground,” he continued. “Sounds great – except they didn’t get that approved … once it got discovered, they’d been shipping these things for months.
“These slabs are coming out pre-stamped from MDOT, the tickets are stamped, everything is legit from a visual perspective, except for the fact that that change didn’t get approved.
“As of this past Friday, (State Aid was) going to throw it back to Forterra and tell them, ‘These slabs haven’t been approved, you can’t keep using them.’ I think the best way to put it is, the jury’s still out on this one. I don’t know exactly how it’s going to fall.
“What’s this got to do with us? Well, the decks on this bid we’re fixing to award to Dozer were going to come from Forterra. So, I want you to approve the award to Dozer contingent upon us getting this whole deck thing resolved. I don’t know what that’s going to look like.
“(I suggest approving it) with that contingency and sit on the contract documents until we get some guidance from State Aid that (the slabs) are acceptable as they are, or they are not.
“If they are, we’ll sign it and go on. If they’re not acceptable, and State Aid throws it back to Forterra and says, ‘You can’t bring those slabs out here,’ then that puts Dozer and Forterra in a predicament where Dozer doesn’t have a supplier of slabs.
“Dozer has to hold their price for like 60 days. So, that will either give Forterra time to get approved or go back to the way they were doing it, or Dozer can find somebody that can make them. But right now, there is nobody else that can make them.
“It seems like a very ridiculously persnickety thing, but you’ve got to understand that all this stuff starts at the Federal Highway Administration with load ratings, and everything is done jive with that so you can continue to get your federal money for bridge inspections and whatever else you’ve got to have.
“So, you’re just kind of caught between a rock and hard place. They made a change that was not approved – it’s just as simple as that. We’ve just got to wait and see what happens.”
In other action from Monday’s meeting, the Board of Supervisors:
• Heard from District 2 Supervisor Eddie Stebbins that active termites had been found in the Department of Human Services building in Bude.
“(There were) only two rooms I could determine termites were in – they might be all over – but they ate through the sheetrock,” Stebbins said.
“My understanding is (the exterminator) couldn’t spray because it was too wet. He did spray inside to stop the swarming, but he couldn’t spray (outside) because it was too wet.
“They also have a drainage problem. The water (isn’t) draining away from the building. It can’t stay like that. There’s a sewer issue, too.”
The panel discussed bringing heavy equipment to the site and making a drainage ditch.
McKenzie offered to look at the area as well from an engineering perspective.
• Heard a request from Tax Assessor-Collector Talina King Matthews to hold the annual land tax sale online through GovEase.
In 2020, the board voted to stick with the traditional, in-person tax sale for the time and revisit the issue this year.
Board members said they would talk to leaders of other counties who use the service and revisit the topic soon.
• Received a letter from the Office of State Aid Road Construction stating Project SAP-19(14)S was awarded to T.L. Wallace Construction Co.
The project includes edge and base repairs, leveling, resealing and placement of signage and striping on nine State Aid roads throughout the county.
• Approved payment of $1,417.20 to Walter Beesley for the collection of $5,209.75 in Justice Court fines during May.
• Approved a pay request from T.L. Wallace Construction Co., in the amount of $19,136 for work on Davis Hill Road.
• Approved a utility permit application for Franklin Telephone Co., to lay fiber optic cable along Oldenburg, McNair, Wactor, Bunkley, Hill, Campbell, Pot Hook, Oglesby and Davis Hill roads.