Department of Public Works Director Bob Mitchell meets with the Worcester County Commissioners on Tuesday to recommend the awarding of the Lewis Road sewer extension project facilities bid to EA Engineering, Science and Technology. The project, which will connect residents along Lewis Road to the Landings sanitation service area, has been in the works about 20 years.

The Worcester County Commissioners signed off on awarding the contract for the Lewis Road gravity sewer and pump station design to Ocean Pines-based EA Engineering, Science and Technology for $97.056.57 on Tuesday.

The bids entailed the completion of the design, permitting, and construction-phase engineering services for the Lewis Road sewer expansion project, which the commissioners voted 4-3 to pursue earlier this year, with Commissioners Ted Elder, Chip Bertino and Jim Bunting having consistently voting to not go through with the project.

The gist of their opposition has been that the project is being treated as a special exception, albeit one that is needed, considering the use of the American Rescue Plan Act funding for it while residents who benefitted from similar projects had to pay for it. Bunting and Bertino again showed their opposition on Tuesday as the bid was awarded on a 4-2 majority, with Commissioner President Joe Mitrecic absent.

Residents benefitting from a similar project in Newark were saddled with higher rate costs, even though they told the commissioners it would be a hardship for them.

A Lewis Road sewer expansion has been in the works for 20-some years. The project aims to connect long-underserved residents along the road that runs between Sinepuxent Road and Stephen Decatur Highway to the Landings sanitation service area. It will be paid for with a $1.48 million grant and funding from the ARPA. The ARPA money will be used as a stand-in for a $500,000 USDA loan.

The project calls for multiple sanitation facilities to be constructed but will also use existing pipelines and a water tower.

“The money is for infrastructure,” Commissioner Diana Purnell said in June. “To infer that Lewis Road (is special) — no one is special. We all work in the county together … You can’t tell me that after 20 years of doing water and sewer in this county, there’s been a time where we’ve done anything for this area. … This is money that’s here, that came in from ARPA so we can use it.”

“This is in an area that’s growing by leaps and bounds all around … I think we should use the ARPA money for this very much underserved area.”

This story appears in the print version of Ocean City Today on Nov. 19, 2021.

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