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City-county projects may need revisions


City engineer Kevin Stafford

City engineer Kevin Stafford



Nathan Gregory



Plans for a pair of joint projects between the city of Columbus and Lowndes County will have to be revised after bids for the work came in over the projected budget, county supervisors learned Monday during their regular meeting. 


Lowndes County supervisors approved a bid from Weather's Construction of $555,993 to build a walkway connecting the soccer complex to the Riverwalk and another bid from Edge Construction of $464,318 to construct berms and a fence at a new shooting range for the Columbus Air Force Base. 


The Mississippi Department of Transportation is providing $480,000 in grant money for the sidewalk project. The original estimated cost of the project was $600,000 with the city and county splitting the remaining costs down the middle. The price tag has grown to $667,847, which would mean an extra $33,923 for the county and city, after MDOT mandated that the 980-foot-long trail be 10 feet wide instead of the originally planned eight feet.  


Kevin Stafford of engineering firm Neel-Schaffer said he has spoken with Weathers on how to reduce costs by using alternative materials that do not compromise quality. This would get the project back within budget, he said, but the adjustments will require MDOT approval.  


"The worst case scenario is it stays as it is today," Stafford told supervisors.  


Pending approval from the city council today during its 5 p.m. meeting at the municipal complex, Stafford would make a recommendation to the MDOT commission overseeing the project and construction of the trail would begin in August, he said. The work should be completed by the end of the year, depending on the on-time delivery and construction of a bridge that is part of the project design. The project extends the Riverwalk near the bridges on Moore's Creek and under the Highway 82 bypass. 




Shooting range discussions 


Similar issues with bids coming in over projected costs have also required revisions for the shooting range. 


Inflation coupled with additions to the shooting range requested by CAFB officials bumped the 2012 estimate of $1,365,000 to $1,698,418. The Golden Triangle Development LINK received a Mississippi Major Economic Impact Authority Military Base Enhancement Program grant that would contribute 80 percent of a $1,330,000 grant toward construction of a new range for the Columbus Air Force Base, as well as local law enforcement. The county and city will split the remaining 20 percent through land donations and in-kind services.  


The city and county would each have to match $322,709 with the $1,053,000 grant compared to the initially projected $156,000 to fund the project unless the city opts to contribute some of its amount in in-kind services. 


The original estimated cost for a building and 14-lane bullet trap was $860,000, but the lowest base bid was from Burks-Mordecai Builders at $1,082,000.  


The original budget also anticipated the city and county would build the fence and berm, but officials recently determined doing so would require too much manpower and compromise the other routine duties assigned to public works and road crew. 


Stafford said the berms were also smaller and shorter in the original budget and have been stretched out to accommodate CAFB's recent request for a 100-meter range instead of a 25-meter range. 


The newly projected costs do not reflect other in-kind service options, including incorporating the Tombigbee River Valley Water Management District to clear trees and install culverts. Supervisors agreed Monday to ask TRVWMD to perform the latter of those tasks. The city can also elect to do some clearing and grubbing to lower the project cost from Edge Construction. The city currently has $203,000 allocated for the range and may have to set aside some of what it would still owe due to the increase in next year's budget. 


CAFB officials had told the LINK, city and county officials that a firing range able to accommodate their mission was a high priority for the base and having one in place prevents it from being part of the next round of Base Realignment and Closure cuts in 2017. Military personnel currently have to travel to other ranges on some training practice missions. 


Construction of the facility has to be done by Oct. 22 for the grant to be awarded. 




Other board business: 


■ Supervisors gave chief financial officer Davis Basinger an additional 30 days to hire an inventory clerk; 


■ Supervisors approved invoices from Calvert-Spradling Engineers and Golden Triangle Planning and Development District for the CalStar building and invoices from Ausbern Construction on the Mississippi Steel Processing plant; 


■ Approved travel reimbursement for supervisors and administrators traveling to the Tennessee Tombigbee Waterway Conference in Point Clear, Alabama next month.


Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.



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