The Fort Smith Port Authority is ready to begin construction on buildings damaged during record flooding of the Arkansas River in May.
The authority signed a construction manager as constructor contract with Cameron Hubbs Construction, Inc. at a special meeting Monday (Dec. 2) to rebuild two warehouse, an office building, parking and a truck scale at the Port of Fort Smith. An exact dollar amount or maximum price was not set.
Both parties, the authority and Cameron Hubbs, president of Cameron Hubbs Construction, agreed they could come back after the first of the year and set a maximum cost point after the all insurance monies the city will receive for property damaged in the flooding has been properly distributed. The estimated insurance payout is between $2.7 million and 2.9 million said Deputy City Administrator Jeff Dingman, though the city could receive FEMA funds that would add to that amount.
“We can go ahead and get started on the dirt work, utility work and site work,” Hubbs said. “A contract will allow me to start phasing the work. There are some items we’ve got to do no matter what. … The final price might determine how much paving we do.”
What is known is that two 30,000-square -feet warehouses and a stand-alone office building will need to be constructed to replace ones damaged in the flooding. The new buildings will occupy the footprint of the old ones and join a third warehouse that was not damaged at the port.
The authority signed a $140,000 contract with Studio 6 Architects to render professional architectural and engineering design services for the rebuilding project Oct. 31. It approved a resolution to award a contract for the cleanup and demolition of damaged facilities to Haston Recycling LLC in a special meeting Aug. 7. There was no cost to the authority for that work.
Marty Shell, Ports of Fort Smith and Van Buren operator and owner of Five Rivers Distribution in Van Buren, said he thinks construction work can begin within the next 35-40 days. He expects the project to be completed in July or August.
“By that time, we will have been out of there for a year and three or four months. That’s a long time. But it will a nice and sound new facility,” he said.
In October, the port authority authorized Shell to purchase and install a new scale at the port at a cost of $54,000 and to do to necessary railroad work at the site at a cost of $50,000. The port received a grant for $295,593 from the Arkansas Waterways Commission Oct. 30 to “reconstruct and repair the port facility from damage caused by 2019 flood event.”
The grant is a matching grant with the Fort Smith Port Authority responsible for matching 10%. Since 2016, the Port of Fort Smith has received $1.227 million in grant funding from the Arkansas Waterways Commission, Shell said.