City sees $22M in public works projects in 2010

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 17, 2010

NATCHEZ — The sounds of construction workers riding heavy equipment might not be heard outside every resident’s window or office, but public works has been very busy this year.

City Engineer David Gardner told the Natchez Board of Aldermen Tuesday his department has completed, is working on or is slated to begin working on 16 major projects this year. The cost of the projects being invested into the City of Natchez is $22 million, Gardner said.

“We are on overload mode,” Gardner said.

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Gardner detailed the progress particularly on a few projects, including the North Natchez Drainage Project, which should help prevent slow drainage and standing water on the north side of town, Gardner said.

Gardner said Phase I-A is nearly half complete, and the contractor is currently installing the main drainage line heading north along North Wall Street. Construction is also currently being done on sidewalks, lateral lines and other issues along Canal and Madison streets.

The cost of the construction of Phase II-A was recently increased from $2.55 million to $2.59 million, but the new cost is well below the engineer’s estimate of the project of $3.39 million.

Ward 1 Alderwoman JoyceArceneaux-Mathis questioned Gardner and board members about funding for Phase 2-B.

The city must come up with a $1 million match for the project, and the remaining 75 percent of the project will come from the Corps of Engineers, Gardner has said.

Arceneaux-Mathis encouraged each board member to use their resources and connections to seek grant funding for the project to avoid taking out a bond issue.

Gardner said city has already committed to paying the Phase 2-B match and will take out a bond only as a last resort if grant funding is not found, she said.

“That’s why we’re scratching around here,” Arceneaux-Mathis said.

“Personally, I need help (finding grant funds), and I know the mayor does too,” she said.

Gardner said he also wanted a seamless transition to the next phase, but contractors would likely require a month between starting the new phase, which offers more time to search for funding for right of way acquisitions for the project.

Natchez Trails project was also discussed at the meeting.

Gardner said he got approval from the board to make design changes costing $31,851, for a total project cost of $1.64 million. The new design includes electrical outlets on light posts, which would allow power for appliances such as Christmas lights.

Gardner said his department has also stared surveying six sites under consideration for Emergency Watershed Project sites funded by the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Prospective sites include 1246 Daisy St., 381 John R. Junkin Drive, Laird Street, 1707 Merrill St., Old Metcalf Alley and 502 West Stiers Lane. The combined cost of the projects if approved will be $242,000, with the city funding $49,000.

Board members thanked Gardner for the update and presentation.

“That’s what going on in your city,” Mayor Jake Middleton said.

Gardner also listed the following projects:

A downtown overlay project is waiting on a final inspection from officials with American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which is funding the $575,000 project.

The downtown overlay included portions of Rankin, Commerce, Pearl, Washington, State and Canal streets and a portion of Melrose-Montebello Parkway near the Roselawn subdivision.

The completed Union Street overlay is a $602,000 project financed by the city’s federal urban aid fund.

The engineering department is currently working on plans for the St. Catherine Street Forks of the Road Trails Project.

Gardner said by using a library and museum grant and by allowing the Historic Natchez Foundation to work directly with contractors, the city will save money on the $931,000 project.

Department of Environmental Quality funded an Illegal Dump Site project for $15,000, a dump site clean up project that was completed in August. Gardner said the city recently received tentative approval for a $25,000 second-round of project funds.

The Southwest Mississippi Planning and Development Association funded a Municipal Roof Replacement project for $563,000.

The city entered a contract for the project with Salmon Architect, who is currently working on plans to replace roofs on the Natchez Police Department, Fire Station No. 2, the Senior Citizens Center and the Natchez Association for the Preservation of Afro-American Culture Building.

A Community Development Block Grant will fund a Daisy Street drainage project costing $370,000. Planning on the project is 30-percent complete, and the engineering department is in the process of seeking easement acquisition to begin work.

An Energy and Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant worth $63,000 will replace the city’s 644 incandescent traffic light bulbs with energy efficient LED bulbs. The LED lights were ordered from Shreveport, La. in recent weeks to begin the project. The total project cost is $76,000, with the city funding approximately 8 percent of the project.