Bridge contractor answers board’s criticism of delay

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, April 5, 2005

District Three Supervisor Nolan Earl Williamson expressed hisfrustration at delays on the $2.8 million Bogue Chitto River Bridgeproject while seeking an update from the county engineer duringMonday’s board meeting.

“There’s so much that needs doing there … Why aren’t theydoing it?” Williamson said loudly.

Although critical of much of the contractor’s work at the site,County Engineer Carl Ray Furr stepped forward to defend some of theMid-South Construction, Inc.’s actions.

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“Weather is a problem this time of year,” he said.

Furr added that all of the work on the bridge meets state andfederal specifications, despite rumors circulating in the smalltown south of Brookhaven to the contrary.

“Those rumors are erroneous,” he said. “There aren’t anyproblems with the actual construction of the bridge.”

Tillmon Bishop, chancery clerk and board secretary, said hespoke to Billy Baughman a few days ago and asked him to come speakto the board Monday. Baughman refused, Bishop said.

Supervisors two weeks ago sent the company a letter advisingthem the county board was considering terminating their contract.Bishop read a letter from Mid-South to the board, addressed to thecounty engineer, that was written in response to the board’sletter.

Signed by Baughman, the Mid-South letter states that “the waterlevel on this project is too high and the ground too wet to set thelast span of girders across the creek … The equipment removedfrom this project is at the yard of (the company) for undercarriagerepairs … The balance of the equipment to complete this projectis still on the job site.”

Williamson wasn’t satisfied and said that weather recently mayhave been too wet for significant progress, but there had beenplenty of “dry days” leading into the present. He also said thereremains work on the bridge that could be done despite the wetweather.

“There’s more work down there than setting that beam. There’sthings they could be working on every day,” he said. “They haven’thad a full crew down there in at least six months. They aren’tmaking no attempt (to work on the bridge).”

Mid-South’s contract has not expired. The company still has nineworking days to complete the project.

Government contracts are not based on calendar days, but ratheron working days – days that meet weather and other requirementswhich establish the number of days contractors could have worked onthe site.

Once those nine days pass, Mid-South will be fined $390 for eachworking day the project is not completed, Furr said.

“(Baughman) told me he had every intention to get back on thejob,” Furr said.

However, Furr said later in the meeting that “I’m on the vergeof recommending to the board that they be terminated.”

Following the advisory letter mailed two weeks ago, the engineersaid, the next step in the process would be to send State Aidcopies of the board’s letter and Mid-South’s response for theirreview.

Since the bridge is funded through State Aid and federal funds,State Aid would make the final determination on whether Mid-Southwould be terminated, Furr said.