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Mayor: River Falls project to begin in June

Contractors could be “turning dirt” on the city’s River Falls Street project by the first of June, Andalusia Mayor Earl Johnson told city council members Tuesday night.

Johnson said the city received word Tuesday that the approximately $1.5 million in grant funds it has been awarded for the project are “in place.”

Work was first expected to begin this spring, but in November, Johnson said he was told by state Department of Transportation (DOT) officials “they didn’t have the money to release.”

This week, the very relieved mayor called Tuesday a “watershed day.” It was also the day he learned the city had received a$250,000 energy grant with which to replace aged pumps in the city’s sewerage system.

Tuesday night, the council took one of the final steps needed before DOT can approve the street plans and the bidding process can begin when it agreed to pay Omega Rail Management an $8,000 easement for 20 years.

“This is one of the last pieces we need for the plan to be approved,” Johnson told the council.

“Hopefully, in two weeks, we’ll be in a position to start advertising for bids,” he said.

That process will take 30 days, he said.

“We will accept the low bid, then it will go back to them for review. Once they execute the contract, we can start. We could be turning dirt by June 1.

Last year, the city put $6 million in financing in place for this project and others with a bond deal. Johnson said he is anxious to receive the River Falls Street bids, which will determine how much money is available for other projects.