Repair work on bridge pier delayed as bid is rejected|[03/13/08]

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 13, 2008

Work to replace concrete and bearings atop pier 2 of the U.S. 80 bridge across the Mississippi River will be delayed.

An offer from Vicksburg-based Riverside Construction for $997,600 was rejected Wednesday by the Vicksburg Bridge Commission at the request of HNTB, its contract engineering services firm.

The first large pier from the Mississippi bank had been shifting west for about a decade until no further movement was found in the bridge’s annual stability report for 2007. A wind-shear device is in need of repositioning as part of the work. The contract will be rebid within six months with the same specifications, despite the prohibitive costs, bridge superintendent Herman Smith said.

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More competition and cost-effectiveness will be sought for the work. Riverside’s bid was about 68 percent over HNTB’s $593,000 cost estimate.

Addressing pier movement is on two fronts. The other is closer to the shoreline where retaining walls are recommended to stop soil sliding.

Commissioners indicated they are moving closer to building a pair of 10-foot concrete walls directly below the bridge. Costs on that phase of work has been pegged at $622,360 by county engineers.

Talks with Gulf South Pipeline on how best to remove two natural gas transmission lines running directly into the walls’ proposed location have gone well in the past month, chairman Robert Moss said.

Pipeline officials are expected to present a removal plan to county engineers within 60 days, Moss said.

In other business, the panel received notice from the Madison Parish Sheriff’s Office concerning the relinquishing of a small portion of property on the Louisiana side of the river.

Tax savings was the reason, Smith said. Bills from Delta and Madison Parish on more than half of a 1.6-mile span totaled $44,733.57 last year.

Also, commissioners received a $106,376 check from Kansas City Southern Railway covering December’s rail traffic. Rail traffic for February was reported at 24,183 cars.

The river bridge, now used by rail and utility companies only, is owned by Warren County and managed by the supervisors’ five appointees to the commission.