City Council advised that Highway 11 widening pushed back to March 2019

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Widening of Highway 11 has been pushed back until sometime next year, according to information presented at Tuesday’s Picayune City Council meeting.

During the meeting, Public Works Director Eric Morris shared information gathered during a recent meeting with representatives of the Mississippi Department of Transportation. Morris said that during that meeting, the representatives stated the current plan is to have bids in hand by March of 2019. The most recently reported estimate put the start of the project for spring of this year. 

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In order for the new timeline to take place, MDOT requested engineering plans from the city within the next 30 days. In exchange, MDOT has promised to provide its hydraulic analysis of the area planned for widening so the engineering phase can be completed, Brooks Wallace with Dungan Engineering said.

The city also asked that any permits issued to communication companies be put on hold to allow the city to conduct its work first. Morris said he feels city utilities need to be moved first to avoid conflicts with timelines and to prevent damage to lines that involve pressurization, which include water, sewer and natural gas.

Wallace said an agreement is being established between the city and Pearl River County Utility Authority to move all three lines at the same time by the same contractor to make the process easier and more cost effective. Estimates for the total cost to relocate the utility lines are $600,000 to $650,000, of which MDOT will reimburse the city 37 percent.

During discussion of the matter, Councilor Wayne Gouguet asked if the new bridge over the East Hobolochitto Creek is part of the project. Morris said MDOT has currently broken the project into two phases. The first phase involves widening Highway 11 from the intersection of Lakeshore Drive south to Cayten Street. Construction of a new bridge across the creek is tentatively broken out into a second phase, set to take place in 2020 or 2021. As for the requested walking and bike lane on the new bridge, Morris said he could not say if it is included in MDOT’s project. Gouguet asked Morris and City Manager Jim Luke to express the Council’s intent on having the pedestrian lane added to the project due to the large number of people who cross the bridge on foot.

At the end of the discussion, the Council approved a motion to acknowledge the update.

In other business, the Council approved a motion to apply for grant funding from the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality to hold a hazardous waste collection day in the city. Grants Manager Christy Goss said the grant is competitive, so the city would be competing with other municipalities for the funding. But if it’s approved, then a day would be set to collect hazardous household waste, such as paint and oils.

The Council also approved motions to:

— Surplus a 2005 Chrysler 300 for use by the Picayune Police Department as needed.

— Surplus a 1999 Ford Crown Victoria to sell at auction.

The next Council meeting will be March 20 at 5 p.m. in City Hall.