House Bill could provide bridge, road funding

Published 11:00 am Tuesday, January 23, 2018

During Monday’s Pearl River County Board of Supervisors meeting, County Engineer Les Dungan suggested the Board speak to the Senate about increasing funding to the county.

Dungan said the Legislative session is underway and the House is introducing bills that could help the county complete necessary road and bridge work.

He said there are several avenues through which the county could possibly receive funding to help repair roads and bridges.

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Dungan said the Board could receive funding through the Local System Bridge Replacement and Rehabilitation Program in part due to House Bill 722 bill that is working its way through the Legislature.

“We need an increase in funding for road construction in order to maintain what we’ve built and to continue working on the bridges,” Dungan said.

House Bill 722 states that 15 percent of the use tax revenue collected by the state shall be set aside to be used by municipalities, counties and the Mississippi Development Authority to fund street, road and bridge repairs.

Dungan said that if the bill is signed into law it could mean an increase in funding that could allow the county to move forward with three projects that are ready for the bidding process.

“We are in the middle of a bridge crisis right now and this week coincidently we’ll have consulting inspectors in the county looking at our bridges that are supported by timber pilings. I am expecting to hear what they have to say and will work with the road department manager about the need for any postings or closures,” Dungan said.

Dungan said with the House Bill 722 passed the House with 118 votes.

In relation to ongoing projects, Dungan said crews are currently securing right of way for three projects, including bridge work on Nelly Burks Road, Sones Chapel Road and on Harry Sones Road.

“The right of way typically depends on the elevations and different things. But typically for a small county bridge, we need a 60 foot right of way and most of these bridges do not have any former right of way…,” Dungan said. “We have been starting out on an offer of $4,000 an acre for the right of way and negotiate from there depending if there is timber or fences,” he said.

Regarding work to bridges on Progress Road, Dungan said a meeting with the contractor is scheduled for Jan. 23. He said that the work will start with one of the two bridges on Progress Road before moving onto the next bridge. Work on Otis Jones is almost complete. Dungan estimates the road will be open to public within the next 3-4 weeks.