Work on historic tollbooth colonnade to begin soon

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 24, 2014

The wood columns of the old tollbooth colonnade at the Natchez Visitor Recpetion Center show signs of rot and other deterioration. Work on colonnade will not begin until December or early next year. (Ben Hillyer / The Natchez Democrat)

The wood columns of the old tollbooth colonnade at the Natchez Visitor Recpetion Center show signs of rot and other deterioration. Work on colonnade will not begin until December or early next year. (Ben Hillyer / The Natchez Democrat)

NATCHEZ — Natchez residents will soon see work begin to restore the historic tollbooth colonnade on Canal Street.

The City of Natchez awarded bids to start contract the work, which City Engineer David Gardner said will include replacing column exteriors and interior damaged wood, painting and cleaning of bricks and replacing exterior and interior of architrave wood.

Thompson Tree and Spraying Service — part of Dick Thompson’s Live Oak nursery and construction business — was awarded the contract to begin work on the colonnades.

Thompson’s company was the lowest of the two bidders at $430,000 with Dozer of Natchez placing a bid of $1,158,000.

The Mississippi Department of Transportation is paying $200,000 for the renovations, while the Mississippi Department Authority will come up with $300,000 and the City of Natchez will come up with the rest.

“There is $77,429.44 in consulting fees for design and inspection that pits the city paying about $7,529.44,” Gardner said. “We hope to have it finished by the end of June 2015, depending on how the weather impacts the contractor.”

Gardner said the colonnade was originally built as part of the construction of the original Mississippi River Bridge.

The tollbooth, where drivers paid a fee to enter Louisiana or Mississippi, sat between the colonnades.

“It’s a part of our history,” Gardner said. “The first bridge in Natchez was important for economic development.”

Renovations for the colonnades will not begin until next month or the first part of 2015.