Supervisors OK offer for LeTourneau-area easement for pipeline|[04/30/08]

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Private appraisals and one by the Warren County Tax Assessor’s Office backed up a higher price for county-owned land requested by builders of the Southeast Supply Header natural gas pipeline.

Supervisors unanimously approved a $26,350 offer for an easement just less than an acre in size at LeTourneau Landing, a public boat ramp, to speed construction of the pipeline, a 270-mile project of two Houston energy firms, Spectra and CenterPoint.

The route runs from Delhi, La., to outside Mobile, Ala., and under the river near the public landing. Surveys show 734 feet of pipe will be buried at the local entry point, with about 8 miles of its route crossing Warren County.

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Talks between pipeline managers and the county ramped up along with the high stages on the Mississippi River still covering the westernmost parts of LeTourneau Road and the adjacent industrial zone. While receptive to the offer – higher by $5,000 since last week due to more right-of-way needed – supervisors sought erosional responsibility spelled out in the paperwork.

Both sides would agree on hiring a geotechnical engineering firm to come up with solutions if erosion from the pipeline occurred, with Warren County to be compensated by the company for its costs in doing so, Board attorney Paul Winfield said. If erosion from any county-maintained source occurred, the pipeline would be compensated.

A panel of three specialized firms would be hired to hash out liability if the company and the county cannot agree on one entity, Winfield said.

Also, managers of the pipeline, LeTourneau Technologies and Martin Marietta Aggregates, have pressed supervisors for a possible date on reopening the LeTourneau Road, which has not been available for traffic of any kind since April 8. Sections of asphalt are believed to have washed away in the river waters that swallowed the oil rig fabrication area and neighboring acreage.

Previous Mississippi River floods in 1973 and 1997 resulted in the road being raised and rebuilt. Repair costs from this year’s floods – even if damage is not deemed major – are likely to reach $1 million.

Restrictions including weight limits have not been ruled out when road crews remove barricades, despite lobbying efforts by all three companies against limiting truck weights.

On the agendaOn Tuesday, the Warren County Board of Supervisors:Approved a partial abandonment of Freeman Road off U.S. 61 North.Supervisors heard arguments by property owners in a hearing this month. The board moved forward with the process despite questions over whether easements had been improperly granted. A substitute motion by District 3 Supervisor Charles Selmon to discuss the matter further failed, 3-2.A one-eighth section of the cul-de-sac, located less than a half-mile north of River Region Medical Center, has been eyed for development by Robert Henley, owner of 61 North Mini Storage.Approved documents in a contract with Nextel and Motorola to reband county radio frequencies.Approved travel for circuit clerk’s office employees to attend a training program May 19 in Oxford.