Gum’s Crossing Bridge Project Is Out For Bid
If you’re a current subscriber, log in below. If you would like to subscribe, please click the subscribe tab above.
Username and Password Help
GUM’S CROSSING – Construction of a half-mile bridge that spans Skuna River at Gum’s Crossing on County Road 221 is a step closer with the advertisement this week for bids on the project. The bids will be opened by the Yalobusha County Board of Supervisors on January 15 and work could start as early as February on the removal of the existing bridge. The project is estimated to take over a year before traffic flows again across the longest bridge in the county.
“It’s been two years, I am tired of driving around it and everybody else who lives over here is tired of driving around it,” District 5 Supervisor Gaylon Gray noted about the lengthy detour. Gray and others who live south of Skuna River detour almost 30 miles, one way, to get to Coffeeville, or other areas of Yalobusha County.
The bridge was closed in February, 2019, after historic flooding damaged multiple pilings. Almost a year later, in January, six bridge spans crashed down into Grenada Lake. State and county officials have worked for much of 2020 getting the project ready to bid, work that started when supervisors entered a contract with Garver Engineering for the design work.
“This is the largest project the county has ever had a hand in, just this one bridge,” Gray said about the estimated $10 to $12 million project. “We had to get it out to bid and get started by February or risk losing that federal money,” Gray added.
The supervisor was referring to a commitment from the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration to fund 80 percent of the cost to take down the existing bridge and construct the new one, which are bid as one job in the notice that publishes in the North Mississippi Herald on Dec. 17 and Dec. 24.
Using an $11 million dollar estimate, supervisors have calculated that $8.8 million of the funding will come from the Federal Highway Administration, leaving $2.2 million. Of that amount, $1 million will come from state bond money appropriated during the 2020 legislative session, leaving an estimated $1.2 million for the county to fund. Supervisors have also applied for a $650,000 low interest loan, leaving $550,000 still needed from county coffers or other sources. And if the bid comes in higher than $11 million, the county will have to dig deeper to bridge the gap.
“We are still looking at some other funding sources,” Gray noted Tuesday.
Work to secure funding has not slowed the effort to get the project out to bid as soon as possible. County officials have worked simultaneously on funding and pre-bid hurdles during the last year.
“There is a lot of work out there, bridge prices are up pretty good,” County Engineer Karl Grubb reported Tuesday as anticipation builds on the amount at which the bids could come in. “There is a lot of demand for bridge contractors,” Grubb continued. He also noted that the size of the project could deter some of the local contractors from bidding.
“But this project is big enough, we hope to have at least four to five bidders,” Grubb noted. He reported that Garver’s timeline indicates the project could be finished by the end of 2021 or in early 2022.
“It is all weather dependent and lake dependent, but the contractor will have to deal with the water, regardless of the level,” Grubb added. “I anticipate them using barges, you can’t shut down when the water goes up.”
The work will look a lot different from when the original bridge was constructed as part of the flood control project to dam Skuna and Yalobusha rivers to form Grenada Lake.
“The bridge was completed in 1954 and I think they started on it in 1948 or 1949,” Gray said about the work that was on dry ground before the gates were closed at the spillway. “They built all of the bridges and boat ramps about the same time,” Gray added about the flood control project.
Gray also explained that after the U.S. Corps of Engineers completed the bridge, the property easement was deeded to the county to maintain. He has repeatedly expressed frustration that the county is on the hook for spearheading the replacement.
The county’s role includes awarding the bid and securing funding to match the 80 percent that will be paid by the Federal Highway Administration. The county also will have to pay the entire amount for each bill submitted during the course of the project and submit the bill to the federal agency before receiving the 80 percent reimbursement. This means that the county will also have to secure short term funding to cover the time the bills are paid until the reimbursement is sent, which will likely take 30 days or longer for each bill submitted.
The county currently has a legal notice running in the Herald seeking bids for financing the costs incurred with the project to cover the short-term cost of the full amount of the job.
“In my opinion, the county should not have to pay a penny on it,” Gray continued. “It is a shame we can’t get the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to build a bridge over their land so people can get to the doctor, school or work.”