Museum Trail bid comes in over budget

By ANTHONY WARREN,

Yet another hurdle has been thrown in the path of the Museum Trail, but Northsiders are certain they’ll be able to jump it.

This time, the hurdle came in the form of bids. The city recently opened bids on the much-anticipated project, both of which came in hundreds of thousands of dollars over budget. 

Undaunted, Northsiders are jumping into action to raise the funds needed for the work.

“The good news is we have raised an additional $135,000, so we have $240,000 to raise in the next 40 days,” said Clay Hays, vice chairman of the Jackson Heart Foundation.

Bids were opened on October 9. Hemphill Construction submitted a bid for $1,579,850. Delta Constructors submitted one for $1,831,296.50.

The city must approve the bid within 60 days of the date of opening. However, the council will likely not approve any contracts without having the money in hand.

Public works has spoken to Hemphill, which has agreed to hold its current bid prices where it is, even it takes longer than 60 days to come up with the remaining needed funds.  

In 2011, the city received a $1.1 million matching grant to construct the trail. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mississippi provided a $275,000 match.

Engineering cost approximately $170,000.

If the city accepts Hemphill’s bid, the project will approximately $374,850 over budget.

High bids are just the latest in a string of obstacles impacting the project. During the design process, the trail had to be re-routed to cut costs. Later, design work was delayed altogether as the city worked to install a water main along the project’s path. After design work finished, consultants had to help the city obtain easements. 

Water main installation wrapped up in the spring of 2017. Last spring, the council approved purchasing the final easements needed for the project. And last November, final plans for the trail were submitted to the state for review.

Because the project is being paid for, in part, with federal funds, the Mississippi Department of Transportation has to sign off on all aspects of the project. That includes approving easement and rights-of-way purchases, project designs and contracts for construction.

MDOT gave the city authority to bid the work in August. Bids were opened on October 9.

The trail, formerly known as the Museum-to-Market Trail, will connect downtown Jackson to the LeFleur Museum District at Lakeland Drive. It will run through the Belhaven neighborhood.

Anyone interested in donating to the trail can make a tax-deductible gift to the Jackson Heart Foundation. For more information, log onto jacksonheart.com, and click on the foundation tab.

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