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Bridge work should begin ‘any day’

Work on the stalled Bogue Chitto River bridge project isexpected to begin “any day,” officials say.

Lincoln County supervisors approved a project completionagreement with the Insurance Company of the West to finish the$2.78 million bridge project June 6.

ICW, a bonding agency, is responsible for completing the projectafter the original contractor, Mid-South Construction of Columbia,was declared in default and its contract was terminated May 16. Theoriginal contract with that company was signed in July 2003.

When ICW took control, $2.32 million of the contract amount hasalready been spent on the construction of the bridge.

The cost of completing the project has been estimated to exceedthe balance between the amount spent and the allocated amount, butthat difference will have to be absorbed by the bonding agency,said County Engineer Carl Ray Furr.

Ron Yarbrough, an attorney with Brunini, Grantham, Grower andHewes of Jackson, which represents ICW on the Bogue Chitto Riverbridge project, said work on the bridge is expected to begin “Ithink any day.”

ICW has contracted T.L. Wallace Construction of Columbia tocomplete the project.

Yarbrough said the company is in the process of securing thenecessary subcontractors and readying their equipment forrelocation to the project.

“I know they are in the process of preparing to do the work,” hesaid.

The contract with T.L. Wallace states the company hasapproximately 75 working days to complete the bridge, Yarbroughsaid.

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.

A small bridge over Beaver Creek is nearly complete, lackingonly clean up and paving of roads to the bridge. The main bridge,which crosses the Bogue Chitto River and railroad tracks on BogueChitto Road, lacks one main span, railings and other work.

Furr said he fully expects ICW to move as quickly as possible tocomplete the project.

The contractor, and therefore ICW now that Mid-SouthConstruction is in default, is being assessed a fine of $390 foreach day since the contract expired that they could be working onthe project. The fine is levied each working day until the bridge’scompletion.

“It’s in the best interests of the bonding agency to get thatbridge completed quickly,” Furr said. “They’re going to try to cuttheir losses.”

Yarbrough said it is, indeed, the company’s intent to moveforward quickly.

“We’re looking forward to getting it completed,” he said. “Weunderstand the frustration (of Bogue Chitto residents).”

Yarbrough said the county attorney and engineer had been verycooperative and helpful in assuring a smooth transition ofcontractors and in assisting ICW with its needs to ensure a quickcompletion of the contract.