With $44 million in state Department of Transportation funding in the offing for the proposed Effingham Parkway, Effingham County is footing the tab for a mandated value engineering study.
County commissioners approved a contract with Michael Baker International for the study, which is done on any road project exceeding $50 million. The parkway cost, including construction, engineering, utilities and rights-of-way acquisition, is estimated to be $51.94 million.
“We have tried to put this off a little bit until we nail down some more of our bridge plans, but GDOT is insisting we do it now,” said County Administrator Toss Allen.
The value engineering study, which will look for ways to pare costs on the project, is mandated by law. The state DOT selects the firm to do the study from their list of qualified consultants. In order to comply with its Federal Highway Administration stewardship, the state has to use prequalified value engineering consultants to perform the studies.
“In other words, if you want our $44 million, this is what you’ve got to do to get it,” Chairman Wendall Kessler said.
The contract will be for $47,620, and the firm will look over the plans for three-and-a-half days. The expense will come out of special local option sales tax proceeds.
The Norcross-based Michael Baker International will present its findings no later than May 11.
The parkway, which is expected to cost about $46 million in construction, is projected to extend from Blue Jay Road to Highway 30 in Chatham County, about 1.5 miles from Highway 21 and across from Chatham’s proposed Benton Boulevard extension.
According to the planned design of the 6.4-mile long Effingham Parkway, the west side of Blue Jay Road will form a T intersection with the parkway. There will be an 80-foot right-of-way, with 12-foot lanes and 10-foot wide shoulders. Right and left turn lanes are expected to be installed at the parkway’s crossings with Highway 30, Goshen Road, Walter Tuten Road and Blue Jay Road.
Plans also call for five bridges to be built across existing wetlands, the longest projected to be 2,329 feet long.
The county will be responsible for right-of-way acquisitions. Approximately 32 properties are expected to be affected by the route, and right-of-way costs could be more than $3 million, according to a 2014 concept report on the parkway.