City to take over state highway maintenance

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 13, 1999

The City of Natchez wants to clean up its welcome mats.

So city officials have entered a one-year contract with the Mississippi Department of Transportation to take over maintenance of the rights-of-way on state highways within city limits.

City public works crews will be mowing the medians on D’Evereaux Drive, Seargent S. Prentiss Drive, John R. Junkin Drive and Wilson Road, said Public Works Director Richard Burke.

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MDOT&160;has agreed to pay the city for the service, will also provide safety vests and garbage bags, said Hugh Long, district engineer with MDOT.

Mayor Larry L. &uot;Butch&uot; Brown said the city wants to make sure those areas are as clean as possible, because they are the entrances to the city.

&uot;It’s like walking up to one’s home and you have a welcome mat that’s dirty,&uot; he said.

And Brown said he knows the city will probably take a loss on the project because the money MDOT offered isn’t enough to cover the labor needed.

The city has received complaints about the condition of the medians in the past, but city officials weren’t in charge of the maintenance.

&uot;It’s been an easy thing to deal with,&uot; Brown said. &uot;You just shift the blame, but that doesn’t solve the problem.&uot;

Burke said the city will be able to take better care of the grass because it has better mowers that cut more closely and neatly.

Public works currently maintains 100 acres of medians in the city, and the state highways add another 50 acres, Burke said. He said he will try to use city crews to do all of the work.

Long said the agreement was a mutual decision to try to &uot;enhance the beauty of Natchez.&uot;

This is the first agreement of its kind between MDOT&160;and a municipality, Long said. &uot;That’s another reason it’s so important,&uot; he said. &uot;We’re going to work on this, and it’s going to work, because it is a worthwhile effort.&uot;