Council prepares for widening of Highway 11, other projects

Published 7:00 am Thursday, June 7, 2018

Several projects were discussed during Picayune’s City Council meeting Tuesday night.

One of those projects entailed moving utility lines along the route where the Mississippi Department of Transportation has announced plans to widen Highway 11.

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Brooks Wallace with Dungan Engineering presented the Council with a bid tabulation that included proposals from four companies. According to that tabulation, the engineering firm estimated the total cost to relocate sewer, water and natural gas lines along that route would cost about $1.93 million.

The lowest bid of $1.91 million was submitted by DNA Underground LLC. Wallace expressed concern with that bid, stating that he felt some of the cost estimates submitted by the company were half of his estimates and the other bids. Additionally, the company did not submit all of the required paperwork. The next lowest bid was submitted by T.L. Wallace Construction Inc., at $2.1 million.

Wallace said he is working with the city attorney to see if the situation with the lowest bidder can be worked out.

Of the total cost to relocate those lines, MDOT has promised to reimburse the city between 34 to 37 percent. Wallace said that if the city’s population was 800 people less, the state agency would have paid for the entire project.

He estimates the city will pay about $670,000 of the total expense, with the Pearl River County Utility Authority assuming the expenses for relocation of the sewer lines.

Wallace suggested the Council take the bids under advisement and not move on the matter until written confirmation is submitted by MDOT to the city promising to move forward with the project. Getting a written promise will ensure the city does not spend money to relocate lines for a project that may be delayed again, or cancelled, Dungan said.

According to previous coverage, MDOT has promised to widen the highway over the past several years, only to postpone it each time.

The city has entered into an agreement with the Utility Authority to have all utilities moved at the same time to save time and expenses, when the project moves forward.

Wallace also presented the Council with bids to repair Street A and Street B in the city’s Industrial Park. Only one company submitted a bid, Huey P. Stockstill LLC, which included two proposals. The proposal Wallace suggested totaled $251,971, which added another $5,000 to the first proposal. The more expensive proposal includes adding limestone to the road’s shoulders. Wallace said adding the limestone to the shoulders is worth the expense.

The project will reclaim the current asphalt and base, mix concrete with the reclaimed material all in an effort to create a longer lasting roadbed.

Through the project, about 830 feet of Road B will be reclaimed and rebuilt. The project will include less than a quarter mile worth of patchwork repairs to Road A.

Another set of bids was presented to the Council concerning construction of a new taxiway at the Municipal Airport. Previous coverage states that the taxiway will allow helicopters to remain separate from fixed wing aircraft at the facility. 

Two bids were received, one from Huey P. Stockstill LLC for $841,589 and another from Walters Construction Company Inc. for $945,927.

This project will be 90 percent funded by the federal government. Of the difference, five percent will be provided by the state and the city will pay the rest. Wallace said the city’s portion will be about $40,000.

The Council took the bids for the highway widening project and Industrial Park project under advisement. The bids for the airport taxiway will need to be reviewed by the Federal Aviation Administration, Wallace said.

At the end of Tuesday’s meeting, Scottie Merrill, a former city employee, addressed concerns he had during his employment and with his alleged unfair termination. He said that he was unjustly fired from his job about a week ago, and during his employment endured racist comments from his supervisor. When the Item contacted the supervisor named during the meeting to confirm or deny the accusations made against him, he said, “I have no comment until I have had time to see what the next course is.”

Merrill said the alleged discrimination prompted him to request a transfer to a new department prior to his termination.

Merrill requested he have his job back so he could feed his 9-month-old child. No action was taken in open session.

The next Council meeting will be held on June 19, at 5 p.m. in City Hall.