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Port project ‘on time, on budget’

Port project ‘on time, on budget’
Staff Reporter
Eight months and counting for the completion of the Cates Landing project in Lake County, and the Mississippi River port is really beginning to take shape.
Engineering, construction and funding all appear to be moving along smoothly as the Northwest Tennessee Regional Port Authority awaits delivery of a master plan and recommendation for a port operator.
“Everything is on budget and on time,” port authority chairman Jimmy Williamson of Dyersburg told The Messenger after a 40-minute meeting Wednesday morning in Dyersburg.
Work on the multi-million dollar riverport project has been going on since 1999 and is now entering the homestretch with only a few key details left to be handled. A hard hat tour was held last month to give local and state officials a first-hand look at the site.
Port officials are waiting for final approval from federal officials for Foreign Trade Zone designation connected to the port project and there is also the issue of securing funding for the master plan. The master plan is being developed by informa economics of Memphis. The consulting firm is also working with the port authority to come up with port operator candidates.
At Wednesday’s meeting, the port authority was given an update on work currently taking place at the port site north of Tiptonville.
“Right now, everything is moving,” said Mike Sanders, senior project executive and operations manager with Forcum-Lannom Contractors of Dyersburg. “We’ve got a lot going on.”
He narrated a slide show presentation showing on-site work at the port. In one of the slides, a landscape view of the port showed two massive cranes, dump trucks, other heavy equipment and a barge in the river all working on the project.
“The best way to say it is that it’s starting to look like something,” Sanders told the port board.
Right now, a majority of the work going on at the site involves fill material being placed around the massive dock cells. Rip-rap is being placed around the cells and workers are using large probes to reinforce the dock structure using a technique called vibro compaction.
Engineers are also monitoring weather and river forecasts in order to anticipate any problems that could come up later this spring.
“We have a fair chance of making it through the spring without floodwaters affecting our project,” Sanders said.
He pointed out a detailed forecast from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Admini-stration showing there is a “normal risk” for spring flooding in this region.
“Everything is tracking along pretty good,” Sanders said. “No surprises so far.”
Following Sanders’ report, Forcum Lannom’s Randall Rhodes updated the port board on progress being made on the installation of utilities — electrical and water service. Rhodes is the senior design manager for Forcum Lannom Contractors.
He explained engineers are approaching the project with flexibility to make sure the project stays within budget but also is capable of handling the needs of prospective industrial development.
One of the pressing issues is the realignment of a main access road to the port site. A change order for the access road, which will make it more navigable, is expected to cost at least $100,000, according to Williamson.
The port authority’s next meeting has been rescheduled to 9 a.m. May 23 to give the board time to review progress reports on the project. The meeting will be held at the Dyersburg-Dyer County Chamber of Commerce.
Published in The Messenger 4.12.12