City Council approves work on new, old buildings

By BUSTER WOLFE,
Two major city building projects got the go-ahead from the Hattiesburg City Council on Tuesday night by accepting bids to demolish part of the property to be used for the Public Safety Complex and to rebuild the Hub City Transit Facility. The total construction cost for the two projects is about $1.5 million.
The Transit Facility’s damage during the January 2017 tornado had a devastating effect on several sets of people, from the city workers to the residents who used the Hub City system.
Mayor Toby Barker said he realizes that several city establishments need to be rebuilt. However, he also sees a positive move with the Hub City Transit Facility.
“As much devastation as that storm brought, it also created some opportunities for that Edward Street corridor,” he said Monday after a meeting at City Hall. “The damage to the transit system affected a lot of people. I think you will see us coming out with some new routes in the next six months that will serve more of our city. We will create more options for people.”
The Transit Facility building project consists of constructing a pre-engineered building with 6,400 square feet of office area, 3,200 square feet of maintenance area and a 2,000-square-foot open bay on an existing concrete foundation. The project was expected to cost less than $1.3 million, and the bid that was approved Tuesday the City Council was $1,053, 000 from Greater Southeast Construction.
Other bidders included AMS Services ($1,277,776), Casablanca Construction Inc.  ($1,114,000), Jay-Van Company ($1,175,000), Macs Construction ($1,112,200), Reeves Construction ($1,326,000), Richard Womack Construction ($1,102,250), The Arcon Group MS, LLC ($1,094,200) and Transfer, LLC ($1,293,531). D.N.P. Inc. and Hanco Corporation got the specifications, but they did not bid.
Codaray Construction, LLC was awarded a contract for demolition at the Hattiesburg Public Safety Complex with a bid of $494,492. Barker said several stages are involved in this project.
“To look at this whole project, this is how the police station will go,” he said. “First, we have to abate the asbestos in the part of the old Methodist Hospital. The other part is taking down the part that will not be kept. We also have to do a lot of drainage and sewer work on site to get it ready.”
Improving the city’s bond rating is going to be the key to get funding for construction of the Public Safety Complex, Barker said. The delays in filing the city’s audits has affected its chances of any improvement in bond ratings.
“Meanwhile, we are also trying to get our audits in order for 2016 and 2017 so that when it comes time to actually build the facility, we will have our bond rating back and we will be able to borrow money at a better rate,” he said. “We are on parallel tracks to make sure that project happens.”
The city lost its Moody’s bond rating – which is similar to a credit rating for individuals – on Sept. 30, 2016. It has not been able to borrow money since then. 
Other companies that made bids on the Public Safety Facility demolition project were M&M Services ($748,000), Virginia Wrecking Company, Inc. ($842,143), War Construction, Inc. ($1,471,000), Environmental Abatement Inc. ($1,523,674) and Gulf Services Contracting, Inc. ($2,183,420).
The other major construction that is expected by next year is the new fire station to be located on U.S. Hwy. 49 North. The City Council unanimously approved 3-mill tax to include construction of the facility last year.