Bond money not necessary for canal work|[04/04/07]

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 4, 2007

More federal money for Yazoo Canal widening means borrowing by Warren County this year will be about $400,000 less than expected.

To replace a T-dock support structure at the Port of Vicksburg, supervisors had approved renewing and extending an existing port improvements bond issue by up to $2.5 million.

Included in that total was money to cover a looming gap in the canal project’s allocation of local, state and federal funds.

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However, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers now expects to receive federal dollars and the county should not have to issue more than $2.1 million, County Administrator John Smith said.

&#8220We’re looking at probably issuing about $1.8 million to $2.1 million in bonds now,” Smith said.

Built in the 1970s, the dock is a T-shaped support structure on which the crane sits. It is situated on a portion of Port Terminal Circle that is closed to vehicular traffic. The other crane in operation at the port handles cargo weighing less than 15 tons.

County engineers discovered corrosion and cracks welds to steel pipes underneath the structure from years of contact by barges unloading cargo.

The bonds being renewed were port improvement bonds, which were first issued in 1998 and set to expire in 2008. Renewing them leaves the existing .53 mills of taxation in place until the new debt is paid off.

A $272,000 portion of the original bond issue, which will be noticed for sale in the coming weeks after no protest was mounted, was set aside to cover any shortfalls in the canal project if federal funding fell short.

A bid for the canal work was awarded March 20 to 4H Construction of Cleveland. The total cost is $5.3 million, with Vicksburg and Warren County matching federal funding with $1.8 million of their own. Corps officials have expressed confidence that it will receive $3.9 million for the widening project as originally expected.