Stephenville city councilman Alan Nix gave an update on the Eastside Sewer Project during Tuesday's meeting and said the project has run into some unexpected issues.

Nix said the committee is having difficulty with the proposed alignment that they may not be able to overcome.

“This funding mechanism that we have and the timeline that we have says that we need to have everything in the ground and be substantially completed with a specified time. The sad truth is, we’ve run into some property owners that we will require easements from if we use the open trench method to cross their properties, that at this point are unresponsive or uncooperative,” he said.

Although several property owners have consented to allow access for survey, several have expressed concern about the location of the pipeline, the damage an open-cut method of installation may cause to their property, as well as concerns regarding the protection of trees along the pipeline route.

Director of Public Works Nick Williams has proposed an alternate route that will use tunneling, rather than the open trench method that was considered in the beginning and will utilize the existing right-of-way under Old Hico Road to expedite the start of construction.

“There are several advantages to doing this because it opens up an area along 108 and then along the Old Hico Road. There’s a large triangle there that can be serviced from this alternate alignment that would not be serviced from the previous alignment,” Nix said. “The downside is the tunnel method will probably be more costly and to determine more accurately what the cost of that will be, we are already doing some soil testing to determine what the soil conditions are at depth for this pipeline. If my memory is correct, this pipeline is going to be 75 to 100-feet deep in this area.”

Nix said the alternate route they’re exploring will eliminate a significant number of property owners and potential problems that they’re having.

He said the alternate route will probably have cost disadvantages and that they may not have funding for phase two and three.

“My opinion is we need to get pipe in the ground as quickly as we can. We need to be servicing the people that we can service. This has some advantages. We may not be adequately funded to do phase two or phase three, but when we get this done and get the bids back on phase one, we’ll know for sure where we are funding-wise on the whole project,” he said.

Nix proposed that the council wait until they get the results back from the soil sampling and have a better idea on how much the new alignment will cost.

“It’s my opinion that we should let staff continue to investigate this and when they have the soil sampling back, then based on that, [Nick] will have a more accurate estimate on what this realignment will cost. Until we have bids in hand, we won’t know exactly what any of it is going to cost, but I think it’s in our best interest and the best interest of the project to let staff go ahead and gather as much information as possible and bring it back to us,” he said.