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Firms busy with projects from Tupelo to Coast, Natchez to Jackson

There are a variety of major projects among some of the state’s larger engineering firms that include bridges, hurricane recovery and extending utility lines to the Toyota manufacturing plant site.

Jack Farmer, one of the owners of Tupelo-based Cook Coggin Engineers, says the center of the firm’s radar screen is currently focused on engineering for extending utilities from Tupelo to the Toyota plant site that’s approximately eight miles from the city limits.

“There are a number of companies involved,” he said. “Our role is working with the water and wastewater disposal folks through the Pontotoc-Union-Lee Alliance. The biggest part of our work is with site and rights-of-way acquisition. It’s routine work except for the magnitude of the project for our area.”

Founded in 1946, the firm primarily does work in 12 counties in North Mississippi. In addition to Tupelo, it has offices in Booneville, Corinth and New Albany. The other two owners are Kenneth P. Geno Jr. and Adnan Shindala.

Spanning the river

W. L. Burle Engineers of Greenville, Jackson and Oxford has been heavily involved with field engineering for the U.S. 82 bypass and the Mississippi River Bridge in Greenville for several years.

“The projects are in various stages of completion, and they’ve been good, steady sources of work in Greenville,” said W. L. Burle Jr., president. “We’ve worked on the Mississippi and Arkansas state approaches to the bridge since the early 1990s, and we are trying to close it out now.”

He said it’s been a great project with the span a big issue at first. When the project started, the Greenville Bridge was the longest cable-stayed span on the Mississippi River. Designed by H&TB Design, a firm out of Kansas City, the bridge now has competition from a recently designed bridge in St. Louis.

“We’ve also worked on a spur line railroad project for Producers Rice Mill and the Washington Avenue rebuilding projects in Greenville,” Burle said. “The Washington Avenue project was controversial for a while as to whether to make traffic one way or two way. It has been decided to make it two way.”

Post-Katrina projects ongoing

W.L. Burle Engineers are doing post-Katrina environmental assessment and remedial work through the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality in Biloxi, pertaining to underground water treatment.

“We also did some field survey work for the new Highway 90 Bridge in Bay St. Louis,” Burle said. “We surveyed what was left of the existing bridge and the debris field right after Katrina in some challenging situations.”

Compton Engineering of Pascagoula is very involved with hurricane recovery at this time. “Most of our work is still associated with recovery — utilities, new infrastructure, city and county work,” said L. David Compton, president of the firm that was begun in 1973.

With offices in all three coastal counties, Compton Engineering is working on several utility and road projects that are funded by Community Development Block Grants. The biggest challenges are finding employees and affordable housing for those employees in the post-disaster climate.

“We are continuing to interview and hire qualified people when we can find them,” Compton said. “We are looking for people at all levels, including engineers, technicians and surveyors.”

Aesthetics and functionality

ABMB Engineers of Jackson recently completed the Liberty Road Bridge on U.S. 61 in Natchez. “It’s a beautiful bridge — a landmark project that is a great approach to the city,” said John McKee, firm principal. “We were very aware of aesthetics as well as functionality for this project. Everyone should be proud of it.”

The firm, founded in 1985, has also been busy with a large project for the city of Jackson. A $10-million project to replace undersize and antiquated water lines is almost complete.

“It’s a good project that helps a lot of people,” McKee said. “It’s not just about water for household use. The new, larger lines will provide better fire protection for residents.”

Engineering for a new T-Dock on the river in Vicksburg is another active project for ABMB. It’s being done through the Warren County Port Commission and Warren County Board of Supervisors.

“It’s a nice $3.5-million project that will greatly help that port with expanded business and economic development,” McKee said.

With 28 licensed engineers in the firm, he added that these three projects are good examples of what they do.

Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynn Lofton at llofton656@aol.com.


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