Residents wary of Orleans Street work

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 3, 2001

NATCHEZ – Construction near Orleans Street has some people talking about extending the road onto South Canal Street. Under an agreement with the City of Natchez, the&160;U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is using the bayou between Orleans and Canal streets as a disposal site for dirt removed during the bluff stabilization project.

City Engineer David Gardner said the site was chosen because it is near the bluff construction at Rosalie, and a shorter commute for dump trucks means lower construction costs for the city and the Corps.

But, the fill dirt also helps correct an erosion problem with the bayou that has plagued the city in the past and helps to stabilize nearby railroad tracks owned by Illinois Central Railroad.

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Gardner said there are no plans to connect Orleans and Canal streets as part of the project, but that has not kept rumors from circulating in the neighborhoods surrounding the disposal site.

As it stands, vehicles travelling west on Orleans Street must turn at the intersection of Pearl Street where Orleans becomes a one-way travelling east. Traffic coming from the south on Wall Street, also a one-way, must turn east on Orleans Street then south on Briel Avenue in order to connect with Canal Street.

John Ballard, 314 S. Wall St., said he is pleased to learn the city has no plans to extend Orleans Street. &uot;It would change the entire character of the neighborhood,&uot; he said.

As a father of four, Ballard said he would be concerned about the added traffic a connection with Canal Street would surely bring.

&uot;If they put a road in here, it would be the main thoroughfare to Homochitto Street,&uot; he said. &uot;It would be a nightmare.&uot;

Though there are no plans to build a connecting road, Gardner said it sounded like an interesting possibility for the future.

&uot;There are no plans for it, but I’m not going to rule it out,&uot; he said. &uot;It’s certainly something we can look in to.&uot;

Richard Burke, city public works director, agreed a connecting route between Orleans and Canal streets sounds like a good idea, but there are no plans or money available to take on such a project.

&uot;We have so many wishes and wants in the city right now, but we have enough problems keeping the streets that are there maintained,&uot; Burke said.

Gardner said the Orleans disposal site will continue to be used during the third and final phase of the bluff stabilization project.

Phase two of the project, encompassing Roth’s Hill Road, was scheduled for completion in February, but cold, wet weather has put construction slightly behind schedule, Gardner said.