Bids for proposed auxiliary waterline finally advertised

Published 8:16 pm Saturday, October 27, 2018

The proposed auxiliary waterline for Vicksburg is going out for bid.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen Thursday authorized city clerk Walter Osborne to advertise for bids on Phase 1 of the project, which has been on the drawing board for eight years.

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“I thought this day would never come,” Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said.

The waterline project is funded in part by a $2.45 million U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 592 grant, with the city putting up a match estimated at more than $1 million.

Under the proposed plans for the project, the backup waterline will go south on North Washington Street and connect to an existing 30-inch line on Jackson Street. The project took on a sense of urgency after a valve broke on the city’s main waterline in May 2017, forcing city officials to shut the line down for four days and issue a boil water notice.

In the works a long time

Discussion of an auxiliary waterline began in 2010 after a landslide at the construction site of the Corps’ Jesse Brent Lower Mississippi River Museum and Interpretive Center on Washington Street threatened the city’s main waterline.

IMS Engineers of Jackson was hired to handle the waterline project in November 2010 during the administration of former Mayor Paul Winfield, and proposed a route that took the waterline from the water treatment plant on Haining Road, under North Washington Street, across the Vicksburg National Military Park, then down Fort Hill Drive to tie into the line at Jackson Street.

The city in 2015 received bids on the project from four companies; all exceeded the project’s estimated budget.

The highest of the four was $8.57 million from T.L. Wallace Construction of Columbia, with DirtWorks Inc. of Vicksburg coming in at $8.346 million. S.J. Louis Construction of Texas and Hemphill Construction of Florence had the lowest bids of $7.626 million and $7.329 million, respectively.

City officials believe the proposed route was one reason the bids were so high.

The board in 2015 fired IMS after paying the company $212,331.50 between Feb. 15, 2011, and Aug. 29, 2014, and in January 2016 signed a $193,589 contract with Dallas-based EJES, which has an office in Jackson, to review, re-examine and possibly redraw the plans in an attempt to keep the waterline project within budget.

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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