Bridge panel delays pay of KCS bill

Published 11:43 am Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Vicksburg Bridge Commission Wednesday declined to pay a Kansas City Southern Railway bill because the company bought more expensive walkboards than had been agreed upon.

“The point is they showed up with a different style than what we have,” chairman Robert Moss said during discussions by the five-member commission, which operates the 81-year-old bridge that is used today mostly for rail traffic and utility lines. “And (bridge superintendent) Herman (Smith) told them if we’re going to put new walkboards over there, then they need to put the exact same kind of walkboard they’ve got.”

The complete bill from KCS is for $660,712; the part for the walkboards, the only portion in question, is for $29,000.

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The commission tabled payment for a month.

The bill is for KCS’ replacement of about 1,500 crossties and smaller parts along the rails.

The old boards were timber and were replaced with stronger, metal covers. Cost quotes dictated replacing them with timber.

A vote to table the payment followed 48 minutes of discussion, then more than an hour of discussion in closed session after the board termed the matter a potential litigation issue.

In other business, the panel OK’d a $267,510.62 quote from ABMB Engineers Inc. to design, advertise and put out for bid work to shore up the Mississippi bank to stop soil slide on pier 2, the first large support pier from the Mississippi side. The commission paid more than $6,700 in engineering and consulting fees toward the work in 2010-11. Two natural gas lines near the pier were moved in July to speed up the overall project.

The commission also OK’d spending on two pieces of equipment.

The first vote frees up the commission to spend $29,832 for a 50-horsepower, 4-wheel-drive tractor fitted with a front end loader and 6-inch cutter for mowing grass on bridge property. Replacing a larger model would provide more maneuverability than a 75-horsepower model, Smith said. A John Deere model was chosen from three vendors, based on availability.

A second item allows for a $9,742 Polaris all-terrain vehicle to use for emergency purposes during special events on the bridge. This year’s sudden burst of nine events held on the bridge’s roadway spurred the purchase, Smith said.