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Commission votes to retain Louisiana firm for bridge inspections

VICKSBURG — A Louisiana company will continue to do annual inspections of the old U.S. 80 Mississippi River bridge in Vicksburg.

The Vicksburg Bridge Commission voted Wednesday to keep Baton Rouge-based G.E.C. on retainer for $15,000 a year. The company writes reports annually that note the structural stability of the 83-year old railroad crossing. This year’s report concluded the span was in good condition.

The Vicksburg Post reports that the commission delayed a decision on a contract for Stantec, formerly known as ABMB Engineers. The engineering firm consults with the bridge commission on maintenance and repairs near the old bridge. Stantec, a professional services firm based in Canada, purchased ABMB in 2011.

Most recently, the firm worked with the commission on a $549,440 project last winter to shore up the east bank of the river with a pair of 18-foot walls of concrete.

Commission members said the proposed contract did not detail the rates the firm would charge for its work.

“I think they should have rates for every service they provide,” Commissioner Dorwin Shields said. “It’s fairly normal to do that.”

“No rates are a big deal,” said commission chairman Robert Moss.

Stability issues abound at both river bridges in Vicksburg.

Previous annual inspections of the old bridge have shown the first large support pier below the old bridge has moved about 2 1/2 feet west since its construction in 1930. Markers placed below the Interstate 20 bridge have shown westerly movement in recent studies.

More than $4.2 million in federal highway money is headed to state transportation officials in Louisiana and Mississippi to address foundation issues, the U.S. Department of Transportation said last week.

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