Supervisors weigh port crane options

Published 9:49 am Tuesday, November 15, 2016

County engineer John McKee presented the Warren County Board of Supervisors with three options for it to consider for its crane project at the Port of Vicksburg.

The new crane is needed at the port to allow for increased capacity there. At least one company, as yet unnamed, has told the county’s port commission it is interested in increasing its business at the port, if the port could handle that.

McKee, who is senior principal at Stantec, the company that contracts with the county to provide engineering services, said costs for the crane could range from a low of $2.3 million to a high of $4.3 million.

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“Until we bid this thing out, we don’t know what the cost will be,” McKee said. However, McKee said the amounts he provided are “good estimates. I think we’re on the high side.”

One option — and estimated to be the least expensive at $2.3 million — is installing a new crane on the existing T-dock at the port. McKee said the T part of the T-dock refers to the shape of the dock at the port.

“That option is doable, but it has its drawbacks,” McKee said. He said if anything were to happen to the T-dock, access to the crane would be lost.

The second option would be to install the crane on a pedestal next to the existing T-dock, but not include a separate access road to it. That option is estimated to come in at about $3.3 million, McKee said.

The best option, which is estimated to cost about $4.3 million, is to install the new crane on a pedestal next to the existing T-dock at the port, and to also construct a two-lane bridge to it. That option, McKee said, would not only allow for access to the crane should something happen with the T-dock, but would also give the port an additional loading dock.

John Smith, county administrator, said the purchase of the crane represents about $1.9 million of McKee’s estimates, above.

Watco, which is the company that contracts with the port commission to manage the port, has offered to pay a portion of the cost of the new crane. However, Smith said, “We don’t know who will pay for what yet. They are offering to pay for some of the cost, but we don’t know exactly what.”

Monday’s meeting was a work session for the supervisors. Smith said his job now is to begin looking for general obligation bonds and explore Mississippi Development Authority loans. That agency offers low interest loans up to $2 million, he said.

“I’m going to look at different variations of financing,” Smith said.