Parham Bridges improvements delayed as result of increased costs

By ANTHONY WARREN,

Jackson city officials say rising concrete costs, coupled with complications on a related demolition project, have delayed the completion of a new entrance for Parham Bridges Park.

The city brought on Hemphill Construction in September 2017 to build the park’s new entrance at the old Precinct Four substation in the 4000 block of Old Canton Road.

The new entrance was to be the first phase of improvements designed to improve patron access to the park, as well as to make Parham Bridges more competitive with other tennis centers in the area.

However, Hemphill wasn’t able to get started on the entrance until after the precinct building and its slab were removed. And removal of the slab took so long that Hemphill’s contract expired.

City officials had initially hoped to amend the contract, but concrete prices had gone up so much the work had to be re-bid under state law.

“We had the money to do it, but based on state law, because the increase was more than 15 percent, it triggered a re-bid,” Parks and Recreation Director Ison Harris said.

Hemphill’s initial contract was for $98,483. With increases in concrete prices, the new contract cost would have been between $118,000 and $120,000 at the time, Harris said.

Under state law, the contract could have been amended had costs stayed at or below $113,205.45.

“We are re-bidding it and hopefully it will be re-awarded in the next 45 to 60 days.”

LeFleur East Foundation Executive Director Stacey Jordan is pleased work is moving forward.

“We’re so excited this is happening,” she said. “It’s good news.”

The project is being funded in part with a $15,000 grant from the foundation. The precinct substation was torn down free of charge in late 2017 by Revitalize Mississippi, a nonprofit group founded by Northsider Jim Johnston.

 

The substation had been closed for years and was in “a state of disrepair because of substantial fire, water and mold damage,” city documents read.

Relocating the entrance will serve several purposes. First, it will open up space for the tennis center’s expansion.

Tennis officials want to add an additional four courts, which will help Parham Bridges attract larger tournaments.

Now, the center has 14 courts, a large number when Parham Bridges opened more than four decades ago, but small when compared to the mega-tennis complexes of today.

By comparison, a tennis center in Mobile has 60 courts, while Nashville has two centers in close proximity with 24 courts each.

The new entrance also will improve traffic flow in and out of the park. Currently, parking is located in the 5000 block of Old Canton, after the street turns east.

There, Old Canton averages about 19,000 vehicles a day, compared to 12,000 vehicles that travel in front of the old substation, according to Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) traffic count maps.

Parham Bridges is bordered by Old Canton to the north and west and Ridgewood Road to the east. A second entrance to the park is located along Ridgewood next to the playground.

A new sidewalk is currently being built along Ridgewood in front of the play area. 

The second phase will include closing the existing Old Canton entrance and building four new tennis courts.

 

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