Water-Sewer Delayed

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According to city officials, an engineering error has delayed construction of the water and sewer system to Meridian's new industrial park by two months.

The city of Meridian advertised the time for construction bids to be received, but Engineering Associates sent out notices which stipulated a different time.

At a special city council meeting Friday, city attorney Bill Hammack explained.

"That notice again provided that bids were to be submitted on Feb. 3 but changed the time for submission of bids until 11:00 a.m. as opposed to the 11:30 a.m. published time. That was done without the knowledge of the purchasing department," Hammack said.

On that basis, Hammack recommended the city reject all bids and re-advertise the project. City engineer Monty Jackson said that process would delay the project by about two months.

The bid winner was Hemphill Construction Company. The second lowest bidder, Bowie River Construction, has protested.

"I ask that you recess until Tuesday at some time that is convenient to you, which will allow me to place the engineering firm on formal notice that because of this error, its error, that if we suffer any loss or any increased expense or any cost that we're going to look to the engineering firm to reimburse the city for those costs as a result of having to re-bid this project," said Hammack.

The specifications will change because all bids were above the money available.

City engineer Monty Jackson said he didn't know if Engineering Associates could redraw the new specs by Tuesday.

"I'm telling you, I'm perturbed," said Ward 1 councilman Dr. George Thomas. "If they can't do it by Tuesday, I'd support you get another engineering firm. That's going to be my opinion."

"I second that. They made the error," said Councilman Bobby Smith of Ward 5. "They need to correct it. They need to work Friday, Saturday and Sunday. They need to do it. They're costing us."

Engineering Associates of Pearl, Miss., was selected by a committee and also holds the contract to construct an interchange to the new industrial park.