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Transport hub plans get board go-ahead

The Multimodal Facility project that has been a puzzle and abane to city leaders for almost a decade now is finally ready to beput up for bids, Mayor Bob Massengill said Tuesday.

There are some minor hitches in the project that would finallylocate the transportation hub near the smokestack on RailroadAvenue. In pursuing the project, city officials have dealt withissues ranging from funding to dock height and have resolved themall.

The mayor said the final issues are in the interests ofsafety.

Massengill said the stipulation on finally starting the projectis that the railroad crossing at Josephine Street has to be closed.Railroad Avenue will be closed on both sides of the facility.

“We’ll need to close the Josephine Street crossing becauseCanadian National Railroad says you can’t have a train starting upthat close to a crossing without arms,” he said. “And we’ll need toclose Railroad Avenue on both sides of the facility, and it will nolonger be a through street.”

While the city will have to pay more than originally plannedbecause of the cost of inflation since the last cost estimate wasdone in 2005, aldermen agreed that the price of closing the roadand the crossing seems small after the battle to get the facilityin place.

The estimate in 2005 was around $900,000, but architect MichaelBarranco said work in 2009 will cost $1.35 million. Officials saidthe city can apply for an appropriation that would cover 80 percentof the additional cost, meaning the city’s cost would be around$90,000 to $100,000.

“For what we’re getting, it’s worth it,” said Ward Five AldermanD.W. Maxwell.

The board voted unanimously to proceed with advertising forbids.

Meanwhile, another major city project has taken another steptoward being complete. Funding concerns over the Jimmy FurlowSenior Citizens Center, which arose in recent weeks, have beenaddressed.

Massengill told the board that while project funding was shortabout $56,000 of the base bid from Smith Painting and Contracting,grant administrator Woody Sample had negotiated with theMississippi Development Authority.

The MDA has agreed to raise their funding from $490,000 to$518,000, Massengill said, cutting the deficit in half. Massengillsaid the other $28,000 would come from city funds.

“We set aside our $350,000 match and it earned $5,000 interest,”he said. “We’ll only have to spend another $23,000 toward thisalmost-million dollar project.”

The mayor said that if final project costs come in less thanprojected, the savings would be split between MDA and the city.

Aldermen voted unanimously to accept the terms from MDA andapprove the contract with Smith Painting.

Brookhaven Recreation and Parks Director Terry Reid also was onhand to update the board on progress on several park projects. Hesaid two spray parks, located at City Park and Bicentennial Park,are ready for use in the spring.

“They’re ready and they’ve been tested. They’re just waiting forspring with the exception of the landscaping at Bicentennial,” hesaid. “But the first time we get a couple of dry weeks we’ll beable to get in there and do that.”