By Jennifer Lenain and Jodi Marze, Item Staff Writers
The Picayune Item
For the next month, drivers will notice road crews working on U.S. Highway 11 at night.
The Mississippi Department of Transportation maintenance project will stretch for approximately five miles, District Engineer Kelly Castleberry said.
Maintenance work will occur from the Interstate 59 overpass bridge in Nicholson, north to the Hobolochitto Creek Bridge and consist of widening the roadway and an asphalt overlay of an inch and a half.
There will be a two-foot trench widening on the shoulders, Castleberry said.
MDOT awarded Huey Stockstill Inc. the $1.3 million maintenance project over the summer, said Castleberry.
In addition to widening and overlay from the Boley Creek Bridge to the Nicholson Bridge, HSI is installing traffic islands that are required, per contract, by MDOT, said Huey Stockstill, III.
“The islands are to prevent people from parking and blocking the vision of oncoming motorists. We are taking down the existing roadway surface one and a half inches and replacing with new surface,” Stockstill said
“We have about 14 crew members out here working every night but Friday and Saturday night to complete this job in a timely manner,” HSI Project Manager Junior Spiers said.
Spiers said HSI has five additional employees on the asphalt plant crew and an average of 10 to 12 truck drivers every night that are hauling materials back and forth.
HSI Risk Manager Frank Ford said workers will be on the roadway from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m.
With safety in mind, Ford asked, “the motoring public driving through work zones exercise extreme caution while traveling through the road work area.
“These guys have families and there have been incidences of drivers ignoring the flagger and driving on past. Crew members are people from the community who are out working hard to provide for their families,” Ford said.
“We are very proud of our crew and foreman, Corey Hurd, who puts 200 percent into the job. The entire crew works as a cohesive team and we keep safety in mind while we are working. Everyone has a family to go home to,” Spiers said.
HSI has worked hard to be a progressive company, on the grow, with most employees being local, Stockstill said. “We are providing local people stable jobs in a time when many are getting laid off from traditionally stable sources of employment,” Stockstill said.
Picayune recently completed a city-wide paving project that coincides with the U.S. Hwy. 11 project.
City Operations Director Harvey Miller believes the U.S. Hwy. 11 paving project comes at a great time for citizens. “It has been several years since the last overlay project, in fact, no one can actually remember the last paving done,” Miller said.
“As the holidays approach, citizens and business owners alike will certainly be excited,” Miller said. “Our city will be ready for economic development and will show everyone what ‘New South, Old Charm’ truly means,” he said.
The project is on schedule, according to HSI, despite time consuming preparation for Tropical Storm Karen.