NEW ROADS: Access road to be built at Rex Lumber site

Published 3:00 am Thursday, January 17, 2019

The Pike County Commission has awarded a contract to build an access road to the Rex Lumber site and officials say construction will begin as soon as possible.

The commission Monday unanimously approved awarding the project to low bidder McDonald Construction out of Bullock County for $885,425.

Commission Chairman Robin Sullivan said this was an essential step in the process for Rex Lumber to stay on track for their expected June opening.

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“The timeline from Rex Lumber’s standpoint is to be open in June, so this has got to be done as quick as possible,” Sullivan said. “We’ve already told the contractor that, as soon as paperwork is finished, we wanted them to get going pronto.”

The new road will serve as the new version of a county road that was abandoned by the county last year because it ran through the proposed site plan for the saw mill.

That road was originally unpaved, but the new section being built will be paved.

“It’s more like a road relocation,” said County Engineer Russell Oliver said during the road’s transfer to the lumber company. “The mill site property is actually on both sides of that section of road. We’re looking to vacate the north end of 7724 where it is now and then build a new road to the north mostly parallel to what’s being vacated.”

The construction of a road is in the project agreement with Rex Lumber in addition to the $600,000 property the county provided and $150,000 to pay for capital expenses.

In exchange for the county’s investment, Rex Lumber committed to investing over $100 million into the local economy and providing 110 jobs initially.

Oliver said this project will be completely funded by industrial access funds.

“This reconnects and rebuilds that road with a new route,” Oliver said. “County Road 7724 will be almost parallel to where it was and to the north. In addition to that, we’ll be building an acceleration lane on U.S. Highway 231 at the intersection of CR7714.”

Oliver said the acceleration lane will give trucks time to get up to speed before joining the highway traffic.

Sullivan said the new paved road will be an upgrade to the former dirt road.

“It will have three lanes including one lane for stacking trucks in the morning time,” Sullivan said. “What we’re kind of looking at is roughly 100 log trucks there early in the morning. A lot of these loggers, they load up their truck last thing in day so they can get up and go deliver in the morning and then come back and get more.”

Sullivan said the road had to be built to withstand all the weight of that many loaded trucks coming through every day.

This is not the only road project associated with the Rex Lumber mill that the county has in the works.

“We do have two other projects we are developing that are associated with Rex Lumber,” Oliver said. “We’re developing a project to resurface County Road 7714 (Old U.S. Highway 231) from U.S. Highway 231 to County Road 7724 using a combination of industrial access funds and federal aid. That will be to the south of Rex Lumber for vehicles coming to and from Rex Lumber from the south. The other resurfacing project will resurface County Road 7714 from County Road 7724 northerly to County Road 7707 using CDBG, economic development and EDA funds.”