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Construction on bridge will resume next week

Construction crews are scheduled to renew work on the stalledBogue Chitto River bridge project next week, a company officialsaid.

Jay Carney, project manager for T.L. Wallace Construction ofColumbia, said Thursday that the company moved a crane onto thesite earlier this week and intends to locate a second crane at thesite today.

Work on the bridge is expected to begin by Wednesday with twocrews, he said. One crew will work on the bridge itself while thesecond secures the site and begins the dirt work on the banks ofthe river.

The bridge has been the subject of controversy in the BogueChitto area since it was closed nearly two years ago. Originallyprojected by December 2005 at the latest, the bridge has lain idlesince September, when the original contractor, Mid-SouthConstruction of Columbia, removed its work crews from the site.Mid-South was declared in default of its contract May 16.

The contractor’s bonding agency, Insurance Company of the West(ICW), took over the project June 6 and contracted T.L. WallaceConstruction to complete the project.

“It’s a mess,” Carney said, referring to the bridge site. “Thereis so much that was not finished correctly. The first thing we haveto do is go in and clean up the job site and correct someissues.”

The corrections, he said, are technical in nature but no lessimportant because of that.

The main problem is one that the residents of Bogue Chitto areonly too aware of, he said.

“The critical aspect of the job in our opinion that has not beendone yet is the 110-foot beams that have not been hung yet acrossthe river,” Carney said. “We’ll start on that next week.”

The summer is a good time of year for bridge contracts becausethe weather is not usually a major factor in determining when theycan work on site, he said.

“I anticipate a maximum of four months to get this projectcompleted,” Carney said.

The original bridge contract was awarded for $2.8 million.Mid-South had been paid $2.63 million for their work, leaving only$553,500 left in federal funds to complete the contract, saidCounty Engineer Carl Ray Furr. That total is not enough to completethe contract, but the bonding agency must absorb any additionalcosts, he said.

ICW is also being assessed a fine of $390 for each day since thecontract expired that they could be working on the project untilthe bridge’s completion. The penalty was originally levied againstMid-South, which has since gone out of business.

The Bogue Chitto River Bridge was one of several large contractsawarded to Mid-South in a short time frame and they apparentlybecome overextended, Furr said.

Mid-South was also terminated from bridge contracts in AmiteCounty and Simpson County. Leake County had also had problems withthe contractor on their bridge contract.

All of those contracts have been taken over by the bondingagency, Furr said. The Bogue Chitto River bridge was the first toget ICW’s attention because it is the largest of the projects andis approximately 80 percent complete. It was also the first of thecontracts that was awarded.