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Government Fleet Road ready

NATCHEZ — Nearly eight years after its conception and after a number of unavoidable delays, construction on the $3.6 million port road project that will save miles of traffic time for some transport routes is complete.

Adams County Engineer Jim Marlow said the Government Fleet Road extension project, which will save seven miles round-trip for drivers entering the Natchez-Adams County port from the U.S. 84 corridor, only needs a final inspection and whatever last-minute work that inspection may provoke before it opens.

“The pavement is completed, the striping is completed and the signage is done — all of the roadway items are completed,” Marlow said.

“But we don’t want to officially open it and then the contractor have to do some remedial work and have to close it or do a one-lane closure as soon as it is opened.”

The contractor, W.E. Blain, the Mississippi Department of Transportation and the project engineer will conduct the final inspection.

Once the roadway passes final inspection, the new path — which had to be cut through the bluff and includes a curved bridge that was built on an 8-percent grade — will be ready to open, though Marlow said he could not be sure when that would be.

While the roadway work is done, Marlow said a few items related to the project will still need completion. Chief among those are the placement of erosion control structures and permanent beds of grass to secure the easily-erodable loess soil in the area of the project.

At the moment, temporary grass mats have been put in place to keep the project in line with storm water control guidelines, but the permanent grass cannot be planted until warmer weather moves in, Marlow said.

The project had to be extended several times due to environmental factors such as heavy rains and the flood of 2011, which covered a portion of the construction site.

Future flooding won’t be a problem for the road, Marlow said.

“The approach to the bridge serves as the levee itself,” he said. “It is high enough now that the water will never get up on it.”

In addition to saving unnecessary road miles into the port, the extension will alleviate heavy truck traffic on the school and residential zone along the sometimes treacherous curves of Providence Road.

The project was funded by an 80/20 match grant from the National Highway System Intermodal Connector Improvement Program.