CHARLESTON - The Mississippi County Port Authority will seek bids for a new ferry tow boat for the second time.
Leon Steinbrueck, administrator for the Mississippi County Port Authority, updated county commissioners during their meeting Thursday on the port authority's efforts to buy a new tow boat for the Hickman-Dorena Ferry.
Steinbrueck said no bids were received back from the port authority's first request for proposals. He suggested that because tow boat manufacturers aren't used to dealing with the government, the request for proposals coming from the government "scared a bunch of them off."
This time the bid specifications will include a list of options that can be included or left off as the price dictates, Steinbrueck said. He said the deadline for this round of bids will be Aug. 15.
Steinbrueck also advised commissioners that he had met with Missouri Department of Transportation officials and has received 10 signs to be placed around the county to guide motorists toward the ferry.
A few more signs are still needed, according to Steinbrueck, including signs on Interstate 55, but he doesn't anticipate getting them any time soon. "It has taken us a year to get these 10 little signs."
Presiding Commissioner Jim Blumenberg suggested asking MoDOT if the county could purchase and put up their own signs on the state right-of-ways.
Steinbrueck said while some funding was reinstated for the ferry, the operation has still sustained a budget cut. Additionally, the number of riders was down recently due to the high river. "The flood just killed us this year," he said.
Steinbrueck complimented the commission on the new port authority billboards. "That's going to help," he said. Another billboard, however, still has trees obstructing the sign that need to be trimmed. "Either that or we're just going to have to move that sign," said Steinbrueck.
Steinbrueck said that during the ferry's previous operations, tourists accounted for a fraction of their customers but tourism now accounts for well over half of the ferry's business. He said the ferry's web site is getting around 500 hits per week.
Blumenberg suggested asking Tennessee officials if their state will contribute any money to the ferry.
In other Mississippi County commission business, commissioners discussed roads in need of maintenance for the coming blacktopping season.
Blumenberg said he believes more oil in the county-mixed blacktop would result in longer-lasting roads
Some blacktop problems around the county can be traced to roads built "too late in the year," said Blumenberg. Blumenberg said for good roads, crews need weather like the area is experiencing now: "Hot days and hot nights."