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Port Commission bid process brings in lower design costs

The decision by the Warren County Port Commission to bid engineering services for a road expansion project appears to have saved the county a significant amount of money.

During an Oct. 7 meeting, port commissioners chose Jackson-based Neel-Schaffer Engineering Solutions to design a road expansion in Ceres Industrial Park. Out of the five companies who submitted requests for qualifications, Port Commissioners graded Neel-Shaffer the most qualified to do the design work.

The request for qualifications did not involve cost estimates for the work but rather graded competing companies on a number of criteria that included: proposed methodology and work plan, manpower and ability to meet project schedule, experience and qualifications of the team and related performance and achievements.

Following that meeting, the Port Commission then negotiated a price and contract details with Neel-Shaffer. During the Port Commission’s meeting on Oct. 21, port commissioners announced they finalized the contract with Neel-Schaffer for the road design for $29,000.

The contract includes design work to expand a road near Tyson. The 1,200-foot expansion is aimed at making a large greenfield site in the park more attractive to potential economic development projects.

The Port Commission is using matching grants from the Mississippi Development Authority to pay for the design work and due diligence projects on the large, 150-acre site and two smaller sites in the Ceres Industrial Park. The agreement with Neel-Schaffer is for the road design work only.

Stantec Consulting Services, which has a contract with Warren County to provide engineering services, was one of the five companies that provided a request for qualifications to the Port Commission.

It was an estimate by Stantec in January that led the Port Commission to select engineering services through a competitive process.

In January, Stantec provided the Port Commission an estimate for the work totaling $424,600.

During its meeting in May, when the Port Commission was approving the use of matching grants for the road design and due diligence, they decided to pull the road design work out of the project, instead deciding to award Stantec the due diligence project only. That contract with Stantec was reported at $56,000 for the three sites.

Later, during its June meeting, the Port Commission decided to advertise for the request for qualifications. To select the firm, the commission appointed a sub-committee to review submissions from the five companies.

The subcommittee included Port Commission Executive Director Pablo Diaz and commission members Don Brown and Michael Roach.

“It was a thorough process; a good process,” Brown said before the decision on which firm was selected was announced.

“They did not make it easy on us,” Roach added.

In addition to each firm submitting proposals, each was also interviewed by the subcommittee, with each being judged and scored on the list of criteria.

After agreeing to the contract with Neel-Schaffer, Diaz said the firm is scheduled to complete the design of the road by mid-February.

About Tim Reeves

Tim Reeves, and his wife Stephanie, are the parents of three children, Sarah Cameron, Clayton and Fin, who all attend school in the Vicksburg Warren School District. The family are members of First Baptist Church Vicksburg. Tim is involved in a number of civic and volunteer organizations including the United Way of West Central Mississippi and serves on the City of Vicksburg's Riverfront Redevelopment Committee.

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