City plans to restore tollbooth colonnades

Published 12:01am Monday, June 10, 2013

NATCHEZ — The City of Natchez is planning to restore the historic tollbooth colonnade with funding from the Mississippi Department of Transportation.

Mayor Butch Brown said the city is expected to issue request for proposals for the project soon, possibly at Tuesday’s Natchez Board of Aldermen meeting.

The project, Brown said, will involve replacing the columns of the colonnade, which was officially approved as a Mississippi landmark in January 2012.

The base of the columns at the colonnades for the old toll booth just north of the Natchez Visitor Reception Center show rot and other damage that has happened over time. (Ben Hillyer \ The Natchez Democrat)
The base of the columns at the colonnades for the old toll booth just north of the Natchez Visitor Reception Center show rot and other damage that has happened over time. (Ben Hillyer \ The Natchez Democrat)

Historic Natchez Foundation Executive Director Mimi Miller said the colonnade were erected in 1940 as part of the construction of the original Mississippi River bridge.

A tollbooth, at which drivers paid 10 cents to enter Louisiana or Mississippi, sat between the colonnades, Miller said.

The restoration project has a substantial cost, Brown said. The last estimate of the cost done several years ago was approximately $150,000, he said, and only included repairs to the colonnade not replacement.

The colonnade restoration has been an ongoing project for the city for years. City Engineer David Gardner proposed in 2011 rehabilitating the colonnade in conjunction with the former railroad depot to make the city’s application for MDOT funding more competitive.

The renovation of the former railroad depot is now part of the city’s project in conjunction with Alcorn State and Mississippi State universities to relocate the Natchez Farmers’ Market to the bluff and operate the depot as a product development center and meeting space.

In other news expected at Tuesday’s aldermen meeting:

4Brown said Municipal Court Judge Pro Tem Tony Heidelberg would appear before the board to give an update on how the city’s environmental court is going.

Brown said Heidelberg would explain to the board the relationship between the municipal and environmental courts and an overview of progress.

City officials have said the goal of the court, which handles litter, abandoned vehicles, nuisance properties and other code violation cases, is to collect enough fines to cover court costs and generate revenue for the city.

The board of aldermen is scheduled to meet in the Natchez City Council Chambers, with the finance meeting beginning at 9:30 a.m. and the regular meeting at 11 a.m. Tuesday.