Fence work disturbs residents

Published 5:13 pm Friday, February 8, 2008

Fence repair work along Interstate 59 that involves the removal of vegetation has one outspoken resident concerned about the loss of the natural buffer zone the vegetation provides.

Pearl River County resident Sharie Collier is concerned about the recent tree removal work taking place in front of her home, which is near Interstate 59. Collier said she used to enjoy a natural buffer of trees and undergrowth between her home and the interstate, shielding it from the roadway’s noise and lights.

Recent work conducted for Mississippi Department of Transportation by Bush Construction of Laurel involves removal of the trees in order to repair Hurricane Katrina damaged fences, said MDOT District Construction Engineer Red Stringfellow.

“I just lost several healthy beautiful trees,” Collier said.

Not only is Collier concerned about the additional noise and pollution the missing trees will bring, but she’s also concerned about the impact on wildlife in the area.

“There’s just a lot of things (the trees) provide,” Collier said.

Stringfellow said the tree removal work is being conducted on the intestate’s right of way to gain access to the damaged fences. While MDOT has no plans to replant removed vegetation once the fences are repaired they will not hinder underbrush re-growth.

“We appreciate the buffer zone as well, but due to the nature of the work it’s going to be clear there for a while till we get some growth back,” Stringfellow said.

Even though MDOT has no plans to replant vegetation, Stringfellow said there is a possibility that residents could replant some vegetation to regain their buffer zone. Replanting will require a permit from MDOT and the Federal Highway Administration. Concerned residents can inquire about a permit by contacting MDOT at 601-544-6511.

Due to the damage from Katrina, about 80 percent of the fence line in Pearl River County needs to be replaced, Stringfellow said. The purpose of the fence line is to delineate the Interstate right of way from private land.

Woven wire fence will be used in the repair in rural areas while chain link fence will be used in urban areas, Stringfellow said. The fence work should be completed by this summer.