Johnston: Road project money could come soon

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 10, 2000

Additional grant money for the rebuilding of Government Fleet Road could be approved within the next 30 days, James Johnston, Economic and Community Development director, said.

State DECD representatives visited the road and a few of the industries it services Thursday with Johnston, Mayor F.L. &uot;Hank&uot; Smith and City Engineer David Gardner.

The meeting was the first site visit by the DECD since the grant application was submitted June 26.

Email newsletter signup

&uot;We left feeling positive in the likelihood of us receiving the grant,&uot; Johnston said.

Smith agreed with Johnston’s impressions. &uot;I think they were pleased,&uot; he said. &uot;We more than adequately answered any questions they had, and they were satisfied with what they saw.&uot;

The $280,000 grant from the DECD would fulfill the city and county’s obligation for 20 percent in matching funds to acquire a $1.5 million grant from the Mississippi Department of Transportation.

The DECD grant is awarded based on the creation and retention of jobs, but the state representatives were also interested in safety issues surrounding the road.

&uot;We made sure they noticed how narrow the road is and how the trucks have to drive up on the curb to pass,&uot; Johnston said.

Plans to rebuild the road would widen the road, straighten the dangerous curves and fill in ravines that line portions of the route.

&uot;Being out there and seeing it really made an impression,&uot; Smith said.

The DECD officials were pleased that MDOT is involved in the project, Johnston said.

&uot;It takes some of the pressure off them as far as engineering work,&uot; he said.

Both the city and county have already performed some preliminary engineering work on the road, but Johnston said that aspect of the project was not discussed during the visit.

Last week, the Natchez Board of Aldermen and Adams County Board of Supervisors agreed on how to split the project’s costs if the grant is not approved.

&uot;I think that’s good they have a fall-back plan,&uot; Johnston said.

According to the agreement, which has not been voted on by either board, the city and county will divide the cost evenly, with each reimbursing one another for work already performed.

Smith said the favorable response from the DECD representatives helps ease some of the pressure over &uot;fall back&uot; funding.

&uot;Just to know that you’ve got that firm commitment would really solidify the project,&uot; he said.