August 20, 2014 10:51:28 AM
Expect to begin seeing some major road and drainage work on 14th Avenue North in October.
Columbus councilmen accepted a bid from Colom Construction Tuesday of $755,394 for the long-awaited improvement project.
The project includes moving the ditch approximately 20 feet south of its current position along 14th Avenue North and widening the 1,700-foot-long ditch from 23rd Street to the rail line on the east side of the old Kerr-McGee plant. The new ditch will be lined with concrete. The project also includes filling in the old ditch with new dirt, widening 14th Avenue itself so it can have a turning lane with a safe shoulder and installing curbs and gutters.
Project funding comes from a combination of grant money from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and a city match.
Colom Construction's bid was significantly lower than the other three bids and the initial estimate of $860,000, according to Kevin Stafford of engineering firm Neel-Schaffer.
"We've talked to other contractors who worked for them, worked with them or worked against them," Stafford said. "They are capable of performing the work."
The contract is for 150 days, meaning it will be spring time before the work is complete, Stafford said.
The project is separate from remediation of the Kerr-McGee plant site itself. In April, the company who bought Kerr-McGee's assets settled for $5.15 billion to clean contamination at all the old plant sites. This included $68 million to be used at the Columbus site that was shut down and sealed off in 2003. Nearby residents have been exposed to creosote, a wood preservative used extensively at the plant and determined to be carcinogenic, ever since. Multistate Trust is overseeing this process, which may take up to two years to investigate and determine extent of damage before remediation begins.
Mayor, council will object to Ethics Commission report
After discussing pending litigation in executive session, councilmen authorized board attorney Jeff Turnage to request a hearing before the Mississippi Ethics Commission regarding a report issued last week that stated that the mayor and council violated three sections of the state's Open Meetings Act.
In his description of what action was taken during executive session, Turnage said the council authorized him to seek a hearing on the "frivolous complaint."
The Dispatch filed the complaint to the Ethics Commission after it became aware of several non-quorum meetings of councilmen and city leaders.
The Ethics Commission responded by stating the council was in violation when they held separate, non-quorum meetings on four separate occasions regarding the city's retail partnership with the Golden Triangle Development LINK and the Trotter Convention Center renovation project.
Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.
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