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Posted on: July 26, 2017

Rail Spike Latest Malouf Project

Locals breathed a sigh of relief when the ubiquitous orange cones that stretched along Johnson Street for a year finally disappeared just a few weeks ago.

The visual relief was instant — an elegant stretch of grass lining a curved, paved trail all the way from the Crystal Grill to U.S. 82.

Responsible for both the orange cones that protected the site and the resulting Rail Spike Park is Malouf Construction Company of Greenwood.

Malouf has projects in far-flung locations, around 125 team members and two other offices, one in Madison and one in Starkville.

In Greenwood, Malouf’s work can be seen at The Alluvian, where the company managed the remodeling and reconstruction of the old Hotel Irving for Viking Range, and more recently along Main Street with its new streetscape.

Rail Spike Park, which has changed the look of the middle of the city, is another proud contribution of Malouf to Greenwood’s urban revitalization.

Ray Wilbourn was project manager for Rail Spike Park, a year-long, $2.5 million project that included supervising the building of the pavilion, laying the trail and sidewalks, all leveling and landscaping, plumbing and electrical, the asphalt work and much more.

“Mayor Carolyn McAdams had a lot to do with that project. We had many regular meetings at City Hall to coordinate water, electrical and sewer installation with those city enterprises,” Wilbourn said.

Altogether, as many as 60 workers from Greenwood were employed in some aspect of the project, which extended from June 2016 to the end of April 2017.

“The concrete work was big,” Wilbourn said. “It took three crews.”

Before the project began, Wilbourn and Malouf were also responsible for extensive demolition that took place all along the old railroad line.

“There was a lot to tear out, some of it on this lot,” Wilbourn said, gesturing at the parking lot behind the Rail Spike Pavilion.

Demolition was intense closer to downtown and less so as construction edged farther away toward the highway.

Drainage was a big issue as well, Wilbourn said with a chuckle.

“Drainage is always a big issue here in the Delta,” he said. Getting just the right slope of ground and preventing street flooding around the park were constant concerns.

Meeting the requirement of the Americans With Disabilities Act was also a challenge for a two-mile trail with crosswalks at every street it crossed. The city used Mississippi Department of Transportation funds and was required to meet ADA requirements in every aspect of the park.

For Wilbourn and crew, that meant making sure that the grade wasn’t too steep at any crosswalk and that all ramps were at a slope that met the requirements for wheelchair access.

With 12.5 acres of grass, the entire project measured at least 16 acres, Wilbourn estimates — a lot of space to cover in a construction project.

Since its founding in 1987 by civil and mechanical engineer George Malouf and his wife, Kathy, Malouf Construction has moved from the commercial and light building market to industrial building, site development, marine construction and construction management.

Childhood friend and fellow Mississippian Andy Holliday, also a civil engineer, became a partner in the business in 1992.

Wilbourn has been a project manager for 13 years at Malouf, which celebrated its 30th anniversary earlier this year. And though there are offices elsewhere, Greenwood remains the headquarters.

Right now, as is typical, Wilbourn is juggling three different projects: one at Northwest Mississippi Community College in Senatobia, one at an industrial park in Columbus, and closer to home, a tank form for the Leflore County landfill to capture runoff for disposal elsewhere.

Juggling the many skills and crews required for a project like Rail Spike Park is routine for Wilbourn, but there’s nothing routine about the result that has changed the face of the center of the city.

“We really enjoyed working with the city,” he said.
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