Engineering contract extended for State Street

An extension of Neel-Schaffer’s design contract for the North State Street Reconstruction Project won’t raise its overall price, nor will it prevent the city from bidding the project out next month.

Last week, the Jackson City Council extended the contract through December.

Neel-Schaffer was brought on in early 2016 to draw up plans for the North State portion of the $38.5 million project, which includes completely rebuilding a roughly two-mile stretch of the busy roadway.

The firm will be staying on, in part, to help the city obtain easements and right-of-way for the project.

The $38.5 million will include work along North State and West County Line Road, and is being paid for in part with a federal TIGER grant.

The State Street portion will include rebuilding the street from Hartfield Street to Sheppard Drive.

While the Neel-Schaffer extension won’t raise the overall cost of the work, the city is still grappling with how it will pay for the project.

Outgoing Mayor Tony Yarber is proposing a $90 million line of credit to help pay for the project.

The city must bid out the construction in June or risk losing the grant.

However, the administration will not advertise the bids without having the full amount for the projects in the bank.

Although the city has more than $20 million in grant money available for the projects, it does not have the cash on hand.

Jackson was awarded a $16.5 million TIGER grant in 2015 for work on both streets. It has millions more in other grants that are specifically to be used on West County Line.

Under terms of the grant, Jackson must pay for work up front, but can be reimbursed every 45 days for work that has been invoiced and paid for.

Based on plans revealed at a meeting last summer, the North State work will be divided in phases.

The first section will be from Hartfield to Choctaw Road. The second will run from Choctaw to Northside Drive, and the third will run from Northside to Sheppard.

From Hartfield to Choctaw, the street will be reduced to two 11 to 12-foot travel lanes, and a 10-foot multi-use path will be added, as well as a three-foot strip of greenery separating the path from a two-foot curb and gutter.

From Choctaw to Northside, there will be two 12-foot travel lanes, a 12-foot turn lane, 10-foot path and two-foot curb and gutter. The sidewalk will be separated from the street by the curb and gutter.

From Hartfield to Northside, the pathway will be on the east side of the street, engineers said.

The third section will be similar, but will include the sidewalk on the west side of the roadway. A three-foot green strip and two-foot curb and gutter will again separate the sidewalk from traffic.

The project also calls for replacing the aging water and sewer mains under the street, so main breaks won’t damage the new street once it’s completed.

The projects will take between 18 and 24 months to complete.

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