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Commission approves design of new bridge

NATCHEZ — The City of Natchez’s Bridge of Sighs project has been approved by a local preservation commission.

The Natchez Preservation Commission on Tuesday approved a conceptual design by landscape architect Jared Acy.

The Natchez Democrat reports that the project had been delayed for past couple of months after the commission asked the City of Natchez for more detailed plans for the bridge.

The Bridge of Sighs will replicate a now-gone pedestrian bridge at the top of Silver Street. It will allow pedestrians to use the Natchez Trails to cross the street rather than fight traffic. The project has received two $100,000 grants, one from the Federal Highway Administration and another from the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.

City Engineer David Gardner has said the project involves using a prefabricated bridge, meaning it will be built off-site by a manufacturer and assembled on location.

Now that the project’s preliminary design has been approved, Gardner said the city can create bid guidelines that include the approved design. The commission’s input, Gardner said, will also be included in further design details once a builder is selected.

“This project is worth of a lot of critiquing because I mean, obviously, we’ve got to get it right the first time,” Gardner said. “It’s a project that is going to last generations from now, and it’s just critical that we make it perfect.”

The city rejected a first round of bids for the bridge in October after they came in over budget, with the lowest bid at approximately $550,000.

The project went through the bid process the first time without design approval from the preservation commission despite receiving approvals for from the project’s federal and state funding agencies. Gardner has said he mistakenly thought the project had received preservation approval.

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