Council breaks ground, hears update on long awaited road projects

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Tuesday morning, members of the City Council and community gathered at Crosby Commons to hold a groundbreaking event. Later that day a City Council meeting provided updates on two Mississippi Department of Transportation projects.
While a groundbreaking had been held previously at Crosby Commons, Tuesday’s event commemorated construction of the amphitheater and a new entrance facing Sixth Avenue, which is now underway.
During the event, Southern District Transportation Commissioner Tom King said he was happy to help provide $700,000 in grant funds to the city to help with the projects ongoing at the new park. King said those are matching funds, with the city being responsible for 20 percent.
Later that day, the Council heard from Mississippi Department of Transportation Assistant District Engineer Gabe Faggard during the evening’s Council meeting.
Faggard discussed the proposed project to widen Highway 11 from the entrance of Hide-A-Way Lake to the bridge over the East Hobolochitto Creek, and the proposed project to replace that bridge.
He assured the Council that the projects will take place, anticipating the widening project to be let by early next year. Faggard informed the Council that the city will be responsible for 100 percent of the cost to relocate water and gas lines as part of the project, but MDOT will provide 20 percent of the cost to relocate wastewater lines.
City Clerk Amber Hinton said the estimated cost to relocate those lines has not been formed, but the city already set aside funding to cover that expense.
In relation to the bridge project, Faggard said the bike path and pedestrian trail discussed as part of the bridge replacement is up in the air. He suggested representatives with the city share the importance of maintaining that part of the project with King.
MDOT is still in the right of way acquisition phase of the widening project. Faggard said $6.8 million has already been spent on that phase. He estimates the total cost of the widening project to be $8.4 million.
About $9.5 million has been set aside for the bridge, with $4.6 million to be used in right of way acquisition.
Once all rights of way have been acquired, then construction of the widening project would start in about six to eight months. He expects the construction phase to take 18 months when the project begins.
Faggard said the bridge project is slated to take place after the widening project, possibly in 2020.
While Faggard said the funding is set aside for the widening project, he also said no project is 100 percent guaranteed. When asked the likelihood of it taking place, he gave it a 9.9 out of a possible 10.
“We’re fully intent on building this thing,” Faggard said.
In other matters, the Council approved a motion to accept a $70,000 donation of labor and material to build a training facility at the Picayune Police Department. City Manager Jim Luke said the donation is expected to cover the full expense of the facility’s construction.
The next Council meeting will be May 2 at 5 p.m. in City Hall.

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