IP, Zilkha road project set to begin

Published 10:23pm Thursday, August 29, 2013

An economic development project, tied to the success of one of the area’s newest industries, is set to begin in a little more than a week.

The Dallas County Commission approved Volkert Engineering Monday as the engineering firm to oversee the repaving and road construction project leading to Zilkha Biomass and International Paper.

According to Dallas County engineer Coosa Jones, the project, which includes the milling and repaving of Dallas County Road 78 from Alabama Highway 140 to International Paper’s main gate and the construction of two turning lanes, comes with an estimated $541,000 price tag.

Jones also said the 60 working day project would begin the week of Sept. 9.

“For simplicity purposes, this work adds another lane to keep Zilkha traffic from interfering with IP’s traffic as much as possible,” Dallas County Probate Judge Kim Ballard said. “With both company’s using the same entrance, this is needed. IP has tremendous traffic anyway and then to add Zilkha’s traffic, this road work was crucial.”

The funding for the project was provided through a construction, engineering and inspection grant from a state road and bridge fund aimed at helping economic development projects and job creation projects.

“The project is ready to kickoff. Everything has been awarded. All the documents are signed,” Ballard said.

While the new road was not part of the recruitment of Zilkha Biomass to the former Dixie Pellet plant, Ballard said the .64-mile road is important to Zilkha’s business model.

“This road wasn’t a deal breaker,” Ballard said. “But, the difference between Zilkha and Dixie Pellet is that Dixie Pellet was barging their product, Zilkha is going to be transporting theirs by truck to the ports of Mobile and New Orleans.”

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