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City hires new engineers for Haining Road levee project

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen have hired a new company to complete the engineering and design to extend the Haining Road levee surrounding Vicksburg Forest Products.

City and county economic development officials say the levee extension is a major project to protect a section of the city’s main waterline from flooding and provide room for Vicksburg Forest Products to expand. The city has received $1.2 million in state funds for the project.

The board Wednesday approved hiring Neel-Schaffer Engineers at a cost not to exceed $180,000 to complete the work begun by Stantec. The board on Dec. 21 canceled the city’s contract with Stantec at the company’s request. 

Stantec’s request to withdraw came in a Dec. 17 letter from senior principal John McKee. It did not give a reason for the request. The letter also indicated the company would provide all project-related material completed by its engineers to the city.

Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said Stantec did not give him a reason for backing out of the contract and repeated attempts by The Post to contact company officials about the move were unsuccessful.

Stantec was selected for the project after a review of proposals from seven engineering firms by a personal service committee appointed by Flaggs. Neel-Schaffer was the second choice for the project.

On Oct. 15 the board approved an agreement with Stantec for a fee totaling 15 percent of the final construction cost to perform engineering for the project. The contract was amended on Oct. 23 to set the fee at “not to exceed 15 percent of the final construction cost.”

Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said after the Oct. 23 meeting all future contracts will include the clause “not to exceed” and a set contract amount “so we’ll know going in on the front end what a project is going to cost.”

Preliminary plans involved building a new levee along the north side of Haining Road at Long Lake Road and into the existing levee. The levee was originally built to protect the former Anderson-Tully mill.

During the May 2017 flood, a valve on the section of the main waterline west of the levee broke, forcing the board to declare an emergency and hire a contractor to build a dike around the submerged waterline so the valve could be replaced.

The problem also forced city officials to close the water treatment plant’s main valve to prevent backflow and issue a boil water notice that ran for three days.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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