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Rivercane project lights up

By By Adam Prestridge
Plans for the Rivercane development at Interstate 65 began looking brighter during last Thursday's Atmore Industrial Development Board meeting.
After sending engineers with Alabama Power Company back to the drawing board in mid-October following a $350,000 quote for underground lighting in Phase 1 of the multi-phase project, the board was presented with a revised quote from APC engineering manager Mark Custred and engineer Tom Sheffield.
Custred presented a smaller scale lighting project that has the capacity to serve 10 pieces of prime property in Phase 1. The price tag for the new lighting project is $125,000 including a concrete pad and an addition $25,000 for trenching work, which is in line with original cost estimates provided by Goodwyn, Mills &Cawood – the city's engineering firm.
"We're as flexible as you need us to be," Custred said. "We can be cheap or expensive. We have unlimited options, but everything comes with a price tag. It just matters how much you want to spend."
Cost was the main concern on the minds of every board member.
"Do we stay in budget or do we spend an extra $200,000," Industrial Development Board chairman Richard Maxwell asked his fellow board members.
There were also concerns raised regarding how to light future expansions of Phase 1 and the adjacent property currently being marketed by Horne Properties. Custred said the project would not "accommodate expansion into Horne Properties development."
"There will still be a lot of unknowns," Maxwell added.
Custred said. "It costs us to continue doing estimates, so if we have to continue going back and forth we are going to have to charge you for our engineering costs."
Sheffield explained that the reason why the underground power is so expensive is because of the size of wire that is required, the poles, switchgear, boxes, materials and labor.
"The labor costs are probably 20 times more underground than overhead," he said.
Custred also informed the board that the quote does not include service costs and that guidelines per customer depend on load size.
City engineer Euel Screws added that not approving a lighting proposal at the meeting could hold up the current development of Phase 1 currently being worked on by S.A. Graham.
"His plans are to start installing utilities next week depending on the weather," Screw said. "We can't wait until the end of January to make a decision."
Screws also stated that it would cost the city more money if S.A. Graham had to dig up roadway and infrastructure in Phase 1 to add underground power.
The board later agreed that the smaller project would best suit their budget until more property is sold.
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