$100K grant goes for bridge

Published 12:05 am Thursday, October 6, 2011

Editor’s note: This story has been changed from its original version to include several corrections.

NATCHEZ — City officials were the first to utter a sigh — of relief — over a new bridge they hope will cause quite a few more exclamations.

The City of Natchez has been awarded a second grant for $100,000 for the Bridge of Sighs project.

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The grant was given to the city from the Department of Wildlife Fisheries and Parks two weeks ago. The city also received a $100,000 grant under the National Scenic Byways Program from the Federal Highway Administration.

Natchez City Engineer David Gardner said it was really important that city received both grants for the project that is estimated at $170,000.

“One grant just wasn’t quite enough to fund the entire project,” he said.

The the city will pay 20 percent of $170,000 project cost.

Gardner has said the new bridge will closely replicate the old pedestrian bridge at the top of Silver Street. He said it will be made of metal instead of wood, like the old bridge, so it will be sturdier.

The bridge would not only provide a form of aesthetic recreation, but Gardner said it will also allow pedestrians to cross the street without having to get into traffic, which, would add an attraction to the Natchez Trails Project.

The second grant will enable the city to pay for the bridge’s foundation and supplemental additions, including sidewalk repairs, lighting and landscaping.

Gardner said he hopes to begin construction next summer or early fall. He said there is an 18-month time frame for the project to be finished.

“We’re in the very beginning stages,” Gardner said. “There’s a lot to do.”

The possibility of merging the two grants into one to cut down on paperwork and make the process go faster is something Gardner said he is looking into now. He said both grants came from the FHWA but are funneled through and distributed by the Mississippi Department of Transportation.

Getting the approval to merge the grants from the FHWA should be relatively simple, Gardner said, and will allow the city to go through only MDOT for the project.