Corps trying to arrange funds, bid extension for Yazoo Canal|[10/06/06]
Published 12:00 am Friday, October 6, 2006
Facing a deadline two weeks from today, project management officials for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers assured local officials Thursday that the federal government still has options at its disposal to keep a project to widen the Yazoo Diversion Canal on schedule.
In June, the lowest construction bid came in more than $1 million over the original federal estimate of $3.6 million.
Since then, local officials have scrambled to ensure that local matching money stays solid before the bid expires Oct. 20.
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Community Development Block Grant funds for the project totaling $1.5 million have been awarded by the Mississippi Development Authority to the City of Vicksburg. Additionally, Warren County has kicked in $164,168 through the Port Commission.
What remains is the larger portion to be funded by the Corps, about $500,000 more than anticipated.
Efforts have been under way to locate funds outside the Vicksburg District to be “borrowed,” the Corps’ Planning, Programs and Project Management Division Chief Doug Kamien said.
In the meantime, the federal government can seek an extension on expiration of 4H Construction’s $4.66 million bid and come closer to the company’s price.
“That would also be the port’s desire, to extend the deadline,” Kamien said. “We’re at a critical time.”
The canal that flows past City Front connects harbor industries with the Mississippi River. The better the channel, the more shipping it can accommodate.
Staff from the Planning, Programs and Project Management Division, including Kamien, briefed local elected officials and top-tier employees of both Vicksburg and Warren County on the topic Thursday. In attendance were Port Commission Chairman John Moss, City Attorney Nancy Thomas, North Ward Alderman Michael Mayfield and all five Warren County supervisors.
Among other options discussed was finding money from projects further behind in the bidding process in other Corps Districts near the Vicksburg District, but that remained difficult because of tighter regulations, Kamien said.
“Congress is a lot more restrictive on that nowadays,” he said. If money were taken from a Corps project still on the drawing table, there would have to be assurances it would be restored.
Congress normally approves work and then, separately, makes appropriations. At one time, federal funds paid 100 percent of water projects, but in recent years a substantial local commitment has been required.