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APAC submits lowest paving bid
Councilman says long wait cost
the city money

By By Fredie Carmichael / staff writer
April 30, 2004
The long-awaited bids for construction on Meridian's $6 million street repair project are in and the winner is APAC Mississippi Inc.
APAC submitted the lowest bid of $4.3 million, beating out Dunn Road Builders LLC of Laurel by about $700,000 for the work when bids were opened Thursday. Meridian City Councilmen are expected to vote to hire APAC for the work at their regular 9 a.m. Tuesday meeting.
With approval, Meridian Public Works Director Monty Jackson said work could begin near the first of June nearly 10 months after Meridian officials received $6 million borrowed through the sale of general obligation bonds to fund the project.
APAC's bid of $4.3 million includes milling, striping, gutter work and purchasing about 50,000 tons of asphalt at $46 per ton for about 46 miles in street repairs. The remaining portion of the $6 million loan will be used for other street projects, some of which require grant matches.
Those projects include: four-laning North Hills Street from 10th Avenue to Highway 39 North; two traffic control devices at each end of the North Hills Street project; adding sidewalls and piling to improve Anderson Road; and adding a traffic signal at 33rd Street and Highway 39 North to help relieve traffic congestion along North Hills Street.
Asphalt competition
Although APAC has been the only local asphalt company to bid on recent projects, Dunn Road Builders has a plant in Quitman and has won bids on several projects, including resurfacing work on Highway 39.
City officials, while never publicly mentioning them by name, had hoped Dunn Road Builders would have completed a planned asphalt plant in Meridian by the time the street paving bid process came around.
Some councilmen said they delayed the project because Mayor John Robert Smith told them an unnamed asphalt company was planning to locate a plant here, which would have added an additional bidder and possibly lowered the overall cost due to competition.
On March 16, amid controversy of the delays of the street paving project, Smith said the city had not begun paving streets with the $6 million loan because of unspecified "economic development issues."
Mayor Smith was reportedly out of town on Thursday and did not return phone calls seeking his comment about the bids.
Dan Ashley, an estimator and project manager at Dunn, while admitting an asphalt plant in Meridian could be possible in the future, said "nothing is final."
Rodney Grogan, head of Dunn Road Builders, said in March he told city officials that he didn't know how competitive his company would be in the bid process for the paving project.
And, he said, while he looked forward to building a plant in Meridian, it would take more time to complete plans and set a definite start date.
Ashley represented Dunn Road Builders at City Hall on Thursday when the bids were opened. He said his company was not able to submit a low bid because they do not have a plant in Meridian.
Held money
The city received the money from the sale of the bonds on Aug. 26, 2003. The city is paying 3.76 percent interest on the loan over a period of 20 years; the money has been in an account at AmSouth Bank, where it earns about 1 percent interest.
Smith first announced plans for the paving project in November 2002. Councilmen voted in March 2003 to borrow the money and waited until earlier this year to adopt a list of streets to be repaired.
Smith has contended the delays would ultimately save city taxpayers money. He has said the city borrowed the money last summer to get a good interest rate, put the money in an interest-bearing bank account and waited to open the project for bids until the city could tap the asphalt market at the right time.
But Ward 5 Councilman Bobby Smith said the cost of asphalt has gone up since last year due to a recent rise in petroleum prices and that the city lost money by waiting.