Belhaven Creek contract could be awarded this month

St. Mary Street in Jackson's Belhaven neighborhood (Source: David Denney)
St. Mary Street in Jackson's Belhaven neighborhood (Source: David Denney)
Published: Oct. 16, 2020 at 3:30 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Belhaven Creek won’t have to be re-bid after all, thanks to a recent vote by Jackson’s one-percent oversight commission.

At its meeting Wednesday, the commission approved allocating additional funds for the project, enough to cover the second-lowest bid that came in for the work.

The project is the Belhaven Creek Improvement Project. It is needed to increase the creek’s capacity, in large part, to reduce flash flooding in the Belhaven community.

Public works bid out the project earlier this year.

Initially, the city’s one-percent commission allocated about $2.5 million to pay for the work, and a contract was awarded to a firm weeks ago.

However, the contractor that received the bid withdrew their name from consideration after the bid was awarded.

At the time, acting Public Works Director Charles Williams said the project would have to be re-bid, saying the city didn’t have approval from the commission to spend additional funds on the project.

The second-lowest offer was from Hemphill Construction, for a little more than $2.9 million, six figures higher than the lowest bid.

On Wednesday, the commission authorized the use of additional funds to cover the cost of the Hemphill bid, which essentially means the project will not have to be re-bid.

With the additional allocation, Williams hopes to get the new contract proposal before the council in time for its October 27 meeting.

Belhaven Creek is a major drainage ditch that runs through the Belhaven Community. It serves the Belhaven Drainage Basin, which includes the University of Mississippi Medical Center, Veterans Memorial Stadium, Millsaps College, Belhaven University and a portion of the Belhaven neighborhood.

During heavy storms, the creek floods, inundating streets, yards, cars and sometimes homes in the Belhaven community. Much of that flooding occurs in the residential area just south of Riverside Drive.

The drainage improvement project would be designed to address that problem. It includes widening a portion of the creek, shoring up creek walls to prevent future erosion, and installing a new box culvert under St. Mary Street to allow more water to flow under it during peak flooding times.

It was not known how soon work could begin. Williams said it would likely be up to the contractor and would depend on weather.

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