City Sets Start Date for Project

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The Meridian City Council Tuesday approved a start date for the water and sewer project for the new industrial park.

The U. S. Commerce Department is providing $1.5 million to help pay for the water and sewer system. The city is to put up $1.6 million. Under the original federal grant, construction had to start by Feb. 26.

The feds have now given the city an extension, mandating that construction start no later than May 26, 2004, and be completed by Sept. 26, 2005.

On that basis, the city council voted to reopen the bidding process and award the contract in April.

"We have to start construction by May 26th. By receiving the bids the first of April we should be no problem in getting started by May 26th."

Rob Manuel of Engineering Associates, supervisors of the project, said he is confident the bids will be under the amount of money available.

"The original bids came in under our estimate and we feel confident, even though historically there's normally some adjustment by contractors, we feel that the changes we're making will bring in more competition and some modifications in the design will reduce some costs," Manuel said.

As for the bidding error that delayed the project, the company acknowledged fault.

"Well, it was an error that we made in our office in typing up the addendum that went out to clarify some of the questions that the contractors had. We think the project is going to go ahead. It's going to be a successful project and the city is going to be happy with the outcome of it," said Tom Bryant of Engineering Associates.

City councilman Dr. George Thomas said he is satisfied that all the I's have been dotted and all the T's crossed.

"The mayor's staff has assured us they are. The engineering firm has assured us they are. We'll have to accept their word for that," said Thomas.

City engineer Monty Jackson said, once construction starts, it should be completed in 15 months or less.