Heartland Port Authority to seek engineering bids for proposed site

Obtained directly from the Heartland Port Authority, the full request for qualifications (RFQ) can be accessed here.

March 4, 2021: News Tribune (full link below)

As it continues working to gain access to the land for a proposed Missouri River port in Jefferson City, the Heartland Port Authority is starting the process to retain professional engineering services.

The action came during a Wednesday meeting of the Port Authority board.

The Port Authority has a $120,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and $100,000 from the Missouri Department of Transportation to jump-start the port approval process.

The MoDOT funding needs to be used by June 15, said Missy Bonnot, Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce interim president and director. The USDA money doesn't have an expiration date for when it has to be spent, she said.

"Because we are a governmental entity, anything costing over $25,000 has to be put out for bid," Bonnot said. "We need to get the information out to any engineering providers this week. It's going to take some time to get some of this work done."

Bonnot said some local engineers have told her $80,000-$90,000 of the work could be done from their desktop computers — without actually needing access to the site.

MoDOT officials have said there is a "good possibility" if the Port Authority spends $80,000-$90,000 by June 15, it could ask for the remaining $10,000-$20,000 next year to complete this first phase of engineering work, Bonnot said.

The Port Authority will ask engineer firms to submit a request for proposal to the authority by March 23.

"We would select the firm by the end of March and have them start on environmental and design work," Bonnot said.

Also Wednesday, the Port Authority board approved a drone flyover over the port site.

Callaway County Western District Commissioner Roger Fischer, who serves as vice chairman of the board, said fellow board member David Floyd has a friend with a drone that has a computer modeling program that would allow an in-depth look at the property. The cost is estimated at $500.

"My primary concern is we have three wing dikes along the northern edge of the property that extend into the river," Fischer said. "Do we need to remove these or not to help with docking? And that's something I think we really need to know."

A wing dike is a man-made barrier that, unlike a conventional dam, extends only partway into a river. These structures force water into a fast-moving center channel, which reduces the rate of sediment accumulation while slowing water flow near the riverbanks.

Fischer said they would make the information from the flyover available for the public to view. They hope to do the flyover next week.

Last July, Gov. Mike Parson signed a locally sponsored bill transferring 116 acres of state-owned land just east of the Ike Skelton Training Facility in Jefferson City to the Heartland Port Authority.

The Missouri Office of Administration has not granted the Port Authority access to see how much of the property might be usable. Additionally, members of the Port Authority board don't have information needed for negotiations over the worth of the land or whether it will be used through rent, long-term lease or purchase.