Utility Authority preparing for Highway 11 widening project

Published 7:00 am Friday, April 21, 2017

Members of the Pearl River County Utility Authority’s Board of Trustees were provided with an update concerning the widening of Highway 11.
During the meeting, Mississippi Department of Transportation Assistant District Engineer Gabe Faggard assured the Utility Authority Board that the widening project will more than likely take place next year.
But before that project can start, all utilities along the easement must be moved. That will entail the Utility Authority moving its sewer and water lines along the route, which starts at the intersection of Hide-A-Way Lake and ends at the intersection of Cayten Street.
Faggard said the four-lane road will then merge into two lanes at the intersection of Cayten Street before the two lane bridge over the East Hobolochitto Creek.
A plan to replace the aging bridge is also in the works, but that construction won’t start until 2020 or 2021, Faggard said.
He expects the widening of the highway to begin by spring of next year, and take 18 to 24 months to complete.
Replacement of the bridge will take place on the east side of the existing bridge. It will also be a two-lane bridge.
Executive Director Ray Scott said he has already put aside $500,000 to fund relocation of the Utility Authority lines.
Utility Authority Engineer Vernon Moore said he expects to have a cost estimate for the work by the next meeting after he meets with MDOT representatives to determine the full scope of the work.
Moore said he hopes to have the lines relocated by the end of the year.
Board member Fred Aubrey expressed concern that the Utility Authority has to pay to relocate the lines, saying it may force the Board to increase rates to recoup that expense.
Faggard said previously that MDOT will reimburse 20 percent of the cost to relocate sewer lines, but other costs will have to be covered solely by the city of Picayune and the Utility Authority.
In other business, the Board discussed a request from residents of Eagle Heights for the Utility Authority to install sewer lines. Currently, all homes in that subdivision, located off of Otis Stewart Road, have septic systems. However, the soil in the area is not conducive for that type of wastewater treatment, meaning many homeowners have to utilize additional systems that end up spraying treated wastewater onto the surface of the ground.
Scott said a meeting is set for early next month to gather additional information from the residents and gauge their interest in connecting to sewer lines, if they are installed. If the Board decides to move forward, then the system would be similar to what was installed in Hide-A-Way Lake, including a grinder pump at each home.
In order for the Board to consider moving forward, a majority of the residents would need to agree to connect to the system, and therefore bear an additional expense above the monthly rate. Scott estimates there are more than 50 homes in the subdivision, and about half expressed interest in connecting to the system at a previous meeting about the matter. Board member Ernie Lovell suggested not moving forward unless 75 percent of the homeowners agree to connect to the system.
That matter was for discussion only, so no action was taken.
The next Board meeting will be May 18 at 2:30 p.m. at the Neal Road treatment facility.

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