Work moved forward this week on a new bridge that will carry Oxford Road across a large ditch that carries storm water to the nearby Tallahatchie River.
Demolition work on the old bridge was completed early this week by Paul Smithey Construction Company of Tupelo.
Workers and equipment of Steel-Con, Inc, the New Albany company that contracted with the city to build the new bridge, then went to work with site preparation for the new bridge.
After grading the slope of the ditch bank, workmen spread large pieces of woven geotextile directly on the earth. About 30 truck loads of large limestone rock called “rip rap”were hauled from a quarry near Highway 78, a short distance over the state line in Alabama. Using a large track-hoe the rip rap was placed over the the geotextile fabric, thus creating an erosion resistant bridge abutment.
Weather permitting it is expected that pile-driving equipment will arrive, and work will start the middle of next week to drive ten concrete pilings, each 40 feet long, into the earth, providing the foundation for the new bridge.
The site of the new bridge is located within a few feet of fresh water lines and sewer lines, with utility lines running overhead . Workmen at the job site said a natural gas line is also buried in the immediate area of the new bridge.
Steel-Con, Inc. was awarded the job after submitting the low bid of $169,939 to build the new bridge. The next lowest bid of $242,590 was submitted by Ausburn Construction Company of Okalona and the only other bid of $288,923 was offered by Century Construction. Ausburn’s bid was 44% higher than Steel-Con’s bid, and Century’s bid was $70% higher than the winning bid.
One person associated with the work said he believed the Ausburn and Century bids were dramatically higher because of the risks associated with working with heavy equipment so close to the gas, water, sewer, and electrical lines.
Depending upon the weather and other factors, drivers may have to detour around the work site for up to six weeks.
Engineering Solutions, Inc. of Pontotoc is the city’s consulting engineering firm for the new bridge project.