February 19, 2013 9:59:26 AM
Sarah Fowler - firstname.lastname@example.org
The much-delayed and highly anticipated restoration of the old Tombigbee River Bridge is on track to be completed by May.
Kevin Stafford with Neel Schaffer Engineering, said the project is 30-percent complete, with both the underwater portion of the project completed and the center pier now successfully on solid footing.
Crews are sand-blasting and water-blasting the concrete and painting it. Stafford said eventually all of the concrete will be the same color.
Stafford said handrails are also currently being installed on the bridge.
"They've taken down the old handrails and replaced them," he said. "It is going to bring the elegance back to the bridge."
In addition, holes are being drilled to prepare for new light poles.
"You'll see the light poles starting to go up soon," he said. "It's really coming along well right now."
Stafford said the boardwalk, concrete walking surface, lighting and painting of the structure have yet to be completed, but he is optimistic that the project will be completed by May.
"They're making pretty good progress, better than they expected," the engineer said.
Greenville-based Malouf Construction is the primary contractor on the $2.5 million project. A $2-million grant from the Mississippi Department of Transportation provided most of the funds. The balance of the funds is provided through a joint effort between the city and the county. The City of Columbus is contributing $233,333.34, and Lowndes County and the Columbus Convention and Visitor's Bureau are each contributing $133,333.33. Stafford said the $2.5 million includes all fees associated with the project, including design, inspection and construction.
The bridge will complement Columbus Riverwalk and should be completed in time for Sounds of Summer, an outdoor concert series hosted in June by Columbus Main Street Association and the Golden Triangle Development Link. Incoming Main Street Director Barbara Bigelow said she is looking forward to the addition.
"It will be a great feature," she said. "It will be a great asset and something that people of all ages will be able to enjoy."
Sarah Fowler covers crime, education and community related events for The Dispatch.