Street paving tops Columbus City Council priorities

November 10, 2012 10:01:10 PM

Jeff Clark - [email protected]


With a deadline looming, Columbus officials are working to spend the remainder of $3.8 million in general bond obligation money. According to Columbus Chief Financial Officer Mike Bernsen, the terms of the bond state the money must be spent by Nov. 29. 


"Our contractors say (meeting the deadline) will not be an issue and that they are on schedule," city engineer Kevin Stafford said. "I anticipate them to be done the week of Nov. 23, but that is always weather- dependent." 


The latest round of paving comes from the remaining general obligation bond money. The Columbus City Council voted in July to divide approximately $1 million of the remaining $1,432,000 among the six wards for the paving projects.  


At the request of Mayor Robert Smith, the council voted in June to use the remaining $432,000 for special paving projects, including the parking los at the Hitching Lot Farmers Market, Catfish Alley and Trotter Convention Center and creating a new parking lot next to Harvey's restaurant. The lot next to Harvey's is being used for spill-over Riverwalk parking. The cost for the parking lots came in at around $397,000, according to Smith. 


"For this year's bond allocation, 40-plus streets will be paved in the wards by the end of this month," Stafford said. "Three public parking lots will get resurfaced, several ADA improvements were made throughout the city and one new lot was built at the Riverwalk." 


Streets scheduled to be paved this month include the mall entrance at Chevron on Highway 45, Seventh Street North to Bluecutt Road, Ridge Road from Military Road to Forest Glen Road, Moss Street from 14th Avenue to Seventh Avenue North and Springdale Drive from South Gaywood to North Gaywood Avenue.  


Stafford said the council's decision to split the remaining money will allow the city to maximize its street work on a budget. 


"Because the bids came in under estimate and the council decided to split the remainder of the bond proceeds, each ward got to add roads that they did not think they would have money to pave this year," Stafford said. "My goal is to keep each ward within one percent of the original total bond allocation. Historically, we land within two percent of our original estimate on city paving, so we are watching the budget as we go and can still make adjustments to stay within the budget. It is a challenge as paving moves fast and is not cheap, so it takes us and the contractor communicating on a constant basis."  


Additional paving isn't the only way the remaining bond money will be spent. The council recently decided to spend $25,000 of the money on improvements for Catfish Alley and $100,000 will go towards additional facilities at the Columbus Soccer Complex. 


The Columbus City Council voted in Sept. 2010 to use $3.8 million from the Mississippi Development Bank solely for paving, sidewalks and curbs. The $3.8 million was part of an overall bond issue of $8.8 million. Approximately $2.2 million was used for the repair and re-paving of 69 streets in 2011. The debt service the city will carry on the bond is approximately $508,000 per year for 13 years and around $380,000 a year for an additional five years.