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Local firm in line for crossing work

A local highway construction firm has submitted the low bid forthe work on the infamous intersection of Highway 84 andJackson-Liberty Drive, officials said Monday, though the bid awardwill not take place until the paperwork is approved.

Laird’s Crossing, as the intersection is known, has been thesite of numerous accidents – more than 36 since 2006, which isthree times as many as any other intersection along Highway 84. Apublic outcry after two fatalities two months apart earlier thisyear led Mississippi Department of Transportation officials to putup four new stop signs and other yellow road signs, all withflashing lights.

MDOT officials confirmed that Brookhaven-based Dickerson &Bowen submitted the low bid for the project to raise the grade of adip in the road, which obstructs visibility to motorists coming offJackson-Liberty. The state estimated the work could cost around$433,000, but Dickerson and Bowen submitted a bid of$380,507.30.

The only other bidder was Natchez firm W.E. Blain & Sons,who submitted a bid of $399,292.50, said MDOT construction engineerKen Morris.

“The way it happens is we have the bid opening, and they gothrough and check all the bids, and if everything is filled outcorrectly, it goes to the lowest bidder,” he said. “But thecommission has to meet and award it.”

Officials said the commission meets on the second and fourthTuesday. The next commission meeting is scheduled for Nov. 10.

Morris said the project will not only involve raising the gradeand adding new striping, but will also approach the problem of abank that makes visibility westward harder for those headed southon Jackson-Liberty Drive.

“On the north side of the highway when you come down from thelocal road and look to your right, there’s a bank that we’re goingto cut so you can see back toward the west,” Morris said.

MDOT officials also reassured community members, around 8,000 ofwhom have signed a petition asking for preventive measures to betaken at the intersection, that the progress made so far willcontinue.

“We’re not taking anything away,” Morris said of the six stopsigns that warn people to stop not only at Jackson-Liberty, but inthe median.

Dickerson & Bowen part-owner Cecil Estess said if hiscompany is awarded the bid, they will get to work on the situationas soon as the weather permits. He said he believes the originalnotice to proceed may not go into place until Spring, but MDOTofficials said companies are allowed to request an early notice toproceed.

“It’s going to depend on the weather, we’ll do it as quickly aswe can, but you have to have temperatures enough to do it,” hesaid. “When you get started on something like this, it won’t takevery long, and you don’t want to be pulling on and off of it, youwant to go ahead and finish it.”

Estess said until the paperwork is approved and the bid isawarded, he really can’t give any more of a clear estimate, butthat since his company is based in Lincoln County, he’s aware ofwhat the project means to the citizens of West Lincoln.

“If we get the chance to do it, just knowing the situation,we’ll put it in as soon as we can,” he said.