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Friday, March 20, 2009

Marianna’s Infrastructure Is Suffering From Old Age

March 11, 2009 meeting reveals shocking price tag.
By Sid Riley
At the March 11 meeting of the Marianna City Commission the main focus was on receiving a long awaited summary report on the needs and estimated costs of modernization and upgrading of the city’s infrastructure, including streets, water, sewage, and storm water run-off. The power point presentation was made by Jim Bundy, Vice President of Hatch, Mott, MacDonald, a consulting engineering firm from Panama City, Florida.
Their firm had been commissioned by the city of Marianna several months ago to prepare an in-depth analysis of the requirements and needs in the existing infrastructure of the city. It would appear the city has a serious and difficult task to deal with in the not too distant future.
Some parts of the city sewage, water, and storm water systems date back to the early part of the 1900’s, some were installed in a 1955 era project, and other portions were updated and/or installed in the 1980’s. Some parts of the water system are believed to be one hundred years old. Additionally, many of the city’s streets are in need of extensive…and expensive…repairs. This engineering firm has been in charge of the Kelson Street project, which represents a $3.8 million dollar investment by the city.
Bundy’s presentation outlined the existing problems with the various systems, displayed mapping of areas by age and needs, and provides an estimated cost table by street. Some streets only need paving work, others need paving and water upgrade, some require paving, water and sewage, and some of the worse and most costly need paving, water systems, sewage, and storm water system upgrade.
In summary the report estimated the following costs:
$ 8,098,215 Water System Improvements
$14,543,602 Sewer Systems
$12,516,205 Roads and Drainage
$36,773,912 Total Costs
When this last total cost requirement figure was presented to the commissioners, there was a feeling of “Shock and Awe” in the meeting room as the extent of what had been reported was realized.
In the ensuing discussion, Commissioners Roberts and Wise probed the possibilities of attaining funding for this work. It appears that greater hopes of obtaining grant funding from state and federal agencies lies in meeting the upgrading requirements for the water systems, since public health is involved. Also, the various approaches to issuing municipal bonds for this work was also discussed.
A working committee was formed from the City staff to diagnose the data on a street by street basis, with an attempt to prioritize the projects. This would begin to develop a master plan for the city to use as it attacks this serious problem.

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