Port Authority Projects Are Making Progress

By Mark Evans

mevans@stegenherald.com

Some of the projects the New Bourbon Port Authority has been long pursuing are getting closer to becoming reality.

J.S. Alberici Construction Company of St. Louis was about to finally begin work on putting a protective metal skin over the wooden dock piers at the port. The firm had won the job with a low bid of $474,590, back in March 2019.

A number of circumstances – the most dominant of which being the river level – has kept work on the project from getting of the ground for nearly a year and a half.

The river level needs to drop to 14 on the Chester, Illinois gauge in order for the facing to be installed  from top to bottom.  The fabricated steel decking has been lying near the dock for some time.

While the river finally dropped to below 14 feet by mid August, a new issue to deal with has arisen – mud.

“Alberici is getting ready to go back on the site,” Chris Koehler of Koehler Engineering reported at the August 26 port authority board of directors meeting. “They would have started this week, but they showed up and the problem is they’ve got so much mud coming into the harbor that they can’t go down [all the way].”

He said they would start work this week and will do “all they can do, basically down to the mud level that we have in the harbor.”

He said the job – at least all that can be done with the mud in the way – should be done in a bout four weeks, Koehler said.

“They’ll leave one or two sections that they can’t install, and leave on the bank for us so we can install later,” he said. “The harbor’s got to be dredged out again to get down to the posts to do that. But, we’ll have an operating base there we can use for almost all conditions except really low water.”

Meanwhile, the board is still pursuing a dolphin and pulley system in front of the dock, to help move barges.

Koehler said he hoped to have the project out for bid within 30 days.

“It’s going to be very different from what we had initially talked about doing,” he said. “It’s going to accomplish the same thing in the same spot, but it’s just trying to make sure with the money we’ve got, so we can get something out there.”

FERRY SUFFERS MORE BAD LUCK

Chairman Ron Inman reported that the Ste. Genevieve-Modoc Ferry  brought in $6,781 on 19 days of operation in July. Total expenses were $31,856.

For the second time in just under a year, the ferry was broken into and vandalized on July 9. It had been vandalized and set adrift on August 13, 2019 and was recovered across from the Marina de Gabouri, some two miles down stream on that occasion.

This time it was not set adrift, but considerable damage was done.

The perpetrator kicked in a door, destroyed the fire alarm system and started throwing items overboard, including life jackets and important files and ferry records.

He said two fishermen called 911 and deputies captured the individual.

Inman said the man was a 53-year-old from Doe Run, who “had never really been in any trouble” and was high on drugs at the time.

Total damages are close to $5,000, but Inman said a deal was being worked out in which the man would pay restitution of $100 a week, to avoid what could be a seven-year jail term. He said the total could be paid off in a year if the man lives up to the agreement.

That shut the ferry down for a while. Later a problem with one engine overheating also cost the ferry a few days of operation.

Meanwhile, the ferry has two opening for deck hands. Inman said the base pay is $11 an hour, but that frequently it entails 60-hour work weeks. With overtime being $16.50, Inman noted that the pay would work out to $770 most weeks.

He also said it was not backbreaking work. In fact Inman, who is 76, had to fill in as a deck hand himself for several days.

Anyone interested in applying should call Inman at 573-883-7382.