By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – If all goes according to plan, the Mississippi Department of Transportation’s District 1 office will be finished about this time next year.
And District Engineer Bill Jamieson and his colleagues couldn’t be happier.
“The old building opened in 1959 and we’ve started to have a lot of problems with it,” he said.
The work on the new building on the hill overlooking North Gloster Street was to have been finished by August, but the original contractor on the project filed for bankruptcy protection in January.
That sent the project back for re-bidding, with the bonding company and MDOT getting five bids last Friday.
The winner this time around was Jesco, which hopes to begin by the end of May. The company has offices in Fulton and Tupelo.
“We’re looking at 11 months to finish construction,” said Jesco Senior Vice President Jerry Maxcy.
The cost of renovating the facility outweighed the cost and benefit of building a new one, considering the current building has structural, electrical and mold problems. The Tupelo office is the last of six statewide offices to be replaced.
MDOT’s original estimate for the new 34,000-square-foot building was $7.2 million. DC&M, a Bay St. Louis-based company, was the low-bidder with $5.1 million. But the company stopped work in late January after the bankruptcy filing.
The building is about 20 percent complete. Its steel skeleton is currently exposed.
Lori Worley, the MDOT manager from the agency’s Jackson office, said the bonding company will “take care” of the liquidated holdings of the old contractor. In other words, the bonding company will pay the difference between the original estimate and how much it will cost to complete the project.
MDOT and the bonding company still must hammer out the details before Jesco can begin work, but Maxcy said he doesn’t expect any major issues.
Along with the other bidders, Jesco was able to do a thorough inspection of the facility before bidding on the project.
“We’re working with existing subcontractors where we can – electrical, fire protection, for example, to see what needs to be done,” he said. “We saw some things that have to be reworked, but nothing major that we can tell right now. The building is in pretty good shape.”
MDOT is expected to grow another 20 percent in the future, and the new facility will accommodate that growth. Among the features in the building will be an auditorium capable of holding about 200 people. That will allow MDOT to host meetings at its district office, rather than renting the space elsewhere.
The old building will be razed and replaced by a parking lot.