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
GUMS CROSSING – Supervisors continue to move forward with borrowing up to $2.5 million to help fund the bridge project at Gums Crossing. The funding will come from issuing countywide general obligation bonds to help pay for the county’s portion of removing the old bridge and building a new bridge. The county’s portion of the project is 20 percent of the $20-plus million project.
The discussion surfaced in the most recent county meeting on June 6 as supervisors adopted a resolution as part of the lengthy process to issue the bonds. Barring a miracle, the county will incur the indebtedness that will be repaid over the next 20 years. Supervisors have noted that the debt is not expected to come with a tax increase, as the 20-year courthouse renovation work will be fully repaid this year and tax money previously allocated to that bond can be shifted to the new bond.
There is still hope of a miracle – the county has applied for $3.2 million in funding from the state’s Emergency Road and Bridge Repair Fund (ERBRF) for the bridge. The ERBRF was established during the 2018 Extraordinary Session to help revitalize public roads and bridges across the state.
Mississippi Association of Supervisors (MAS) Executive Director Derrick Surrette told supervisors that legislators appropriated $100 million in funding for ERBRF during the 2022 Legislative Session.
“I think there was close to $350 million in requests they have received, it is very competitive,” Surrette added during a phone conference at the end of the June 6 meeting.
Surrette also explained that the state’s three transportation commissioners make the final selection with input from the Mississippi Department of Transportation. That decision is expected in the coming weeks.
Spiraling Bridge Cost
The bridge is the longest in the county, spanning the Skuna River and backwaters of Grenada Lake on County Road 221. It was damaged during historic flooding in February, 2019 and closed indefinitely. Almost a year later six massive concrete spans that formed the decking of the bridge collapsed into the lake.
Following design work, the project went out to bid in December, 2020, and supervisors awarded the $16.24 million bid to Malouf Construction in January, 2021. Work started in the early summer last year, but soon hit a snag after the contractors discovered that four of the massive bridge spans were buried under almost 30 feet of silt in the lake bottom. Making matters worse, two the bridge spans were located directly where pilings for the new bridge would be located and had to be removed.
For months crews at the site worked to dredge the area around the concrete spans, pumping the silt away from the concrete spans and using dive teams to connect cables to large hoists to remove them from the lake bottom. The work was compounded by heavy rains that continued to wash silt back over concrete time after time just as divers were able to access them. The cost for the work will total over $3 million, or almost $600,000 per month, and was outside of the scope of initial contract awarded for the job.
During the June 6 meeting, supervisors approved another added expense, $133,851.74, to drive pilings to pin the remaining two concrete slabs still mired deep in the lake bottom.