City, county should find consensus on road work

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 27, 2000

Government Fleet Road isn’t very wide. Motorists traveling down the narrow road each day cringe when a car approaches in the opposition lane. An approaching semi-truck can strike fear in the heart of a motorist.

Regardless of how narrow the road is, apparently it’s too wide for leaders from the City of Natchez and Adams County to stretch their arms across it in order to reach an agreement on how to fund its reconstruction.

The work is long overdue. The road, which serves as one of the most direct routes to several industries including the county-owned port, needs to be straightened and widened.

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A grant of $1.5 million has been secured from the Mississippi Department of Transportation. But the city and county have to come up with matching funds that are now somewhere in the neighborhood of $250,000 in order to keep the MDOT grant money.

In addition to the matching funds, some of the preliminary engineering work must be completed soon or the grant money will be lost.

The City of Natchez’s engineering department has wisely moved ahead with the preliminary engineering work and is effectively footing the bill for the work. And both city and county officials are banking on receiving a $286,000 grant from the Mississippi Department of Economic and Community Development to supply the matching funds.

But if that grant doesn’t come through, the city and county must split the remaining cost of the road repair project – nearly $250,000. So far, the city and county officials haven’t been able to come to any kind of agreement on exactly how they’ll split the cost.

This is apparently caused by the same inherit lack of cooperation that has caused our economic development authority’s future to be uncertain for more than a year.

Both the county and the city will likely share and equal benefit from the roadwork and should equally split the cost. It’s time to put the narrow road — and the narrow thinking that’s stalling the process — behind us so we get on with more important things.