Rising steel cost may affect contract

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 18, 2004

[2/18/04]Plans to build a new boat and barge for the Kings Point Ferry may have hit another snag, this time over the cost of the steel to build them, Warren County supervisors were told Tuesday.

The county board has been trying for more than a year to buy a new boat and barge to make the short crossing of the Yazoo Diversion Canal northwest of Vicksburg.

Tuesday, County Engineer John McKee asked the board to authorize a check to the state Treasurer’s Office for $59,650 as the county’s match of the $500,000 to be provided by the Mississippi Department of Transportation.

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It “may be a moot point,” McKee told the board.

He said he had been told by Big River Shipbuilders of Vicksburg, which won the contract for $533,000, that the cost of the steel needed to build the 65-foot-long barge and 35-foot-long boat had risen by $20,000 since bids were opened earlier this year.

There was no performance bond required, so the company may withdraw its offer if the county is asked to pay more than the bid price and refuses.

McKee said he had contacted the other bidder, Tensas Machine and Manufacturing of Newellton and was told that company was no longer interested in the contract.

Board Attorney Randy Sherard said the supervisors will have to make a decision soon.

The first attempt to seek bids on the project was withdrawn after potential bidders posed numerous questions to the board and its engineers over the proposed specifications. Then, when two bids were received, they had to be rejected because the bidders did not comply with all requirements. In the last round, Big River was low of the two bids received.

The new ferry was designed to work without a guide cable as all ferries to Kings Point have used in the past. As a result, the push boat was designed to have two 235-horsepower engines for a total power of 470 horsepower.

Kings Point, an island during higher water stages, has been served by a ferry for 100 years. The Army Corps of Engineers has under study other plans that could lead to an all-weather, year-around access road to the farming, hunting and timber land bordered by the Yazoo and Mississippi rivers.

In other action, the board:

Approved allowing the county engineer to meet with potential bidders for an emergency project to repair a slide on the perimeter road at River Region Medical Center and to take quotes from them by Thursday morning. The board also decided to meet at 2 p.m. Thursday to open the proposals and award a contract.

Authorized transfer of one of several vehicles declared surplus for the Warren County Sheriff’s Department to the Mississippi Department of Corrections office in Vicksburg.

Approved payment of $214,035 to Hemphill Construction Co. for work on the sewer project at Ceres Research and Industrial Interplex and submit a request for cash to the Mississippi Development Authority under the community development block grant paying for the project.

Approved the sale of three acres on land at Ceres industrial park to Union Corrugating.

Gave approval to accept a $100,000 grant from the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks for improvements to the LeTourneau boat ramp and authorized the board president to sign documents.

Approved moving a polling place for the March 9 party primary election from Vicksburg Junior High School to Warren Central Junior High School, a few yards farther east on Baldwin Ferry Road and authorized board attorney Sherard to prepare a submittal for the U.S. Department of Justice. The board also approved advertising the move three times in The Vicksburg Post.

Opened bids on a tire containment facility. There were five bids received but two had to be rejected, one because there was no bid bond included and the other because the bid bond was not signed. The remaining bids from Fordice Construction Co. of Vicksburg, Dillon Construction Co. of Carriere and Fred Clark Contracting Services were taken under advisement until the county engineer can evaluate them and report when the board meets again Thursday.