$183k in railroad work approved through federal grant

Published 12:01 am Thursday, June 21, 2018


NATCHEZ — More than $180,000 in improvements to part of Natchez’s lone railway received approval Wednesday.

The improvements will be paid for with a federal grant and with Natchez Railway money.

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Natchez aldermen accepted the bid of local company Dozer Inc. to install a culvert and make embankment repairs, as well as other maintenance work, for a total of $183,570. The work will take place at a section of the Natchez Railway located in Cranfield.

The only other bid came in at $412,500 by Ridgeland company Jay Bearden Construction Inc.

This work is part of a $10.7-million U.S. Department of Transportation’s Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery Discretionary Grant, received in 2016. The grant gave local officials the opportunity to make repairs to the 60-mile stretch of railroad between Natchez and Brookhaven in the interests of economic development. Natchez Railway also committed $3.6 million to the project to help secure the grant.

The project is a 75-25  percent split between federal and Natchez Railyway funds, respectively. No city or county funds are involved, as they are merely sponsors for the grant.

At times over the past two years, repairs have faced delays because of questions about who should sponsor the grant, spurred by concerns over liability.

Eventually, the city and county came to a cooperative agreement, so that should anything happen to the railroad each party would share the liability evenly.

To date, the project has much work remaining, as less than $50,000 has been drawn from the grant, Community Development Director James Johnston said.