Work on Colonnades restarts after brief hiatus
Published 12:03 am Wednesday, February 3, 2016
NATCHEZ — Work began on the Toll Plaza Colonnades this week after a six-month hiatus on the unfinished renovations.
Natchez Community Development Director James Johnston said the project would include a new roof, flashing and electrical work, which was not included in the scope of last summer’s renovations.
The present work is being paid for with Mississippi Department of Transportation monies, Johnston said.
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“I think we’ll be able to do it for less than what we could have with the previous contract,” he said. “We’ll be finished very soon if the weather holds up.”
Johnston said the city was unable to add a roof to the 2015 contract with Live Oak Construction because of negotiations on price.
Contractor Dick Thompson, owner of Live Oak Construction, said last year several construction needs were left out of the restoration plan.
Thompson said prior to the bidding process, engineers did a poor inspection of the historic colonnades, and didn’t account for rotten wood and other infrastructure issues that would need repair.
While working on the colonnades, Thompson said his crewmembers ran into problems with rotten wood and other infrastructure issues, which prompted Thompson to eventually submit 11 change orders, asking for more time and money to complete the project.
Alderwoman Joyce Arceneaux-Mathis, who is working as the acting mayor while Mayor Butch Brown recovers from a stroke, said the public works department was administrating the project, which is being paid for with money left over from the 2015 project that was left unfinished.
“The board is aware public works is doing this, and it has been approved,” Arceneaux-Mathis said.
The importance of the project, Arceneaux-Mathis said, had to do with its position in the historic district of the city.
The colonnades were erected in 1940 as part of the construction of the Mississippi River Bridge.
“Everything we touch has historical significance,” Arceneaux-Mathis said. “The city didn’t want to leave them falling down, right in front of the visitors center, directly next to (the Fort Rosalie site) and everything on Canal Street, the corridor entrance to city. It’s like you got a brand new house, and you let the front gate fall down. Is that how you want to be presented?”