Residents say Marblestone Road needs fix

Published 12:22 am Monday, April 14, 2008

NATCHEZ — A drive through almost any area of Natchez would reveal a need for roadwork in the city.

However one road in Natchez is in such dire need of repair, some residents say by the time the city does the necessary work there might not be much road left to fix.

Marblestone Road, off Cemetery Road, has been compromised by erosion for years according to residents living in the area.

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Drivers on the road must also negotiate cracks, potholes and spots so narrow only one car at a time can pass.

Alfredia Patrick said the road has been in need of work for almost as long as he can remember.

Patrick said for the 30 years he has lived on Marblestone, erosion has been a constant problem in one particular bend in the road.

“It just keeps washing away,” he said.

The city’s public works department has recently worked the bend that concerns residents.

City Engineer David Gardner said the road has been an ongoing problem and the recent work done to it was meant to “shore it up.”

The bend in the road is at the bottom of a slope, the other side of the road drops off into a vast gully, most people in the area call it a bayou.

Rainwater coming down the slope washes over the road accelerating erosion on the exposed gully side.

Residents and Gardner both said approximately five to six weeks ago a large piece of the road simply fell away into the gully.

Beatrice King said she first noticed the problem early one morning on her way to work.

King said as she drove into the bend she could tell something was different.

“The streetlight fell off into the bayou,” she said.

When the chunk of road fell away it actually took a utility pole that supported a street lamp.

Annie Johnson has lived near the bend in the road for 53 years.

She said the gully along the road was not always there.

“There used to be a house right there,” she said. “But its just washed and washed until it’s what you see right now.”

Looking over the vast expanse of the gully it’s hard to picture there was once enough land for a house.

Gardner and alderwoman Joyce Arceneaux Mathis said the city is trying to get the problems fixed.

Approximately three weeks ago the public works department stabilized the road’s structure and put a mound of dirt on top of it to slow the erosion Gardner said.

But both Gardner and Mathis said the road needs a more permanent fix.

Gardner said the city’s engineering and planning departments have both conducted studies on the road and taken the findings to Congress in hopes of acquiring Emergency Watershed Program funds to repair the road.

Gardner said the EWP funds are aimed at exactly the type of problem seen on Marblestone Road.

Neither Mathis nor Gardner could say when the funding might be available.

However residents in the area are likely hoping for sooner rather than later.

“We want this road to be fixed,” King said. “We’re a part of this city too.”