Jackson contractor awarded contract for Depot work after low bidder rejected

Published 6:10 pm Monday, October 9, 2017

Work on the Yazoo & Mississippi Valley Railroad Depot will be done by a Jackson contractor, pending approval by the Mississippi Transportation Commission.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen Monday rejected the low bid of Washington County Properties LLC of Greenville and awarded the contract to Paramount Construction of Jackson, the second bidder on the project with a $511,358 base bid, which is over the project’s $498,513 budget.

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Washington Properties’ base bid was $340,000, but there was a question whether company officials followed the proper procedure when submitting its bid. According to the bid documents opened Sept. 24, company representatives did not sign a form indicating they would agree to do the work for the bid price and within the projected completion date if the company got the job.

“There was an irregularity in the low bid,” city attorney Nancy Thomas said. “We’re not going to waive that and award it to the next lowest bidder.”

The project is funded in part by $471,475 in federal Transportation Alternative Program funds, which are administered by MDOT and cover 80 percent of the project’s cost. Because federal funds are involved, the state Transportation Commission must approve the board’s actions.

Work involves replacing ornamental woodwork on the building’s exterior, repairing the building’s 48 windows, painting the depot’s exterior, replacing its elevator, repairing the building’s cupola on the roof and renovations to the building’s front door to make it handicap-accessible.

The depot’s elevator has been a problem since the building reopened in 2012, at times trapping people inside on the third floor, which once housed the Vicksburg Main Street offices and a conference room used by Main Street and the Vicksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau. The elevator was shut down in April 2016 by state officials as a safety hazard.

Main Street and the VCVB, which rented space in the building, have since moved out because of concerns over flooding, and have relocated elsewhere in town.

The city bought the three-story depot in 2001 for $295,000.

The Mississippi Department of Transportation in 2007 awarded the city a $1.65 million grant to renovate the building, and in 2009 allocated $250,000 in stimulus funds for the project.

Work on the depot restoration began in 2010, but was halted in the spring of 2011 when the Mississippi River dumped 4 feet of water into the building as it reached record heights in Vicksburg, cresting on May 19 at 57.1, 14.1 feet above flood stage and nine-tenths of a foot above the Great Flood of 1927.

The depot became a national symbol for the flood in Vicksburg and the backdrop for media coverage during the disaster. The renovation work resumed in June 2011.

The flood forced the board in 2011 to approve two amendments to the original renovation contract with contractor Kenneth R. Thompson Jr. of Greenwood totaling $56,000 to repair.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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