Bridge greenery dying

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 3, 2008

NATCHEZ — The expansive landscaping that surrounds the Liberty Road bridge is slowly dying from lack of attention and water.

The City of Natchez and the Mississippi Department of Transportation, the agency that built the bridge, are in negotiations about under whose umbrella that responsibility falls.

City engineer and superintendent of water works David Gardner said right now the city is supplying that intersection with water.

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“Water is not an issue at all,” Gardner said. “It’s always been there and it’s always been turned on so that’s not a problem.”

He said the city doesn’t take issue with supplying water for the landscaping, but the city doesn’t know who with MDOT is responsible for controlling the water.

“We just need to know if you have a break out there, who’s going to fix it?” Gardner said.

Darrell Broome, District 7 engineer, said it is MDOT’s responsibility.

“We are responsible for the interchange,” Broome said.

Nellie Wimberly, Natchez project engineer for MDOT, said the same thing.

“Ultimately, it’s MDOT’s responsibility,” she said.

Right now, the department has contracted someone to take care of the landscaping, but Wimberley and Broome both said MDOT will be taking over full responsibility soon.

The last task the contractor will complete, Wimberly said, is to replace the six or seven dead trees and around 40 dead bushes by the bridge.

Gardner said right now the city is talking with MDOT to try to figure out the other responsibilities.

Gardner said MDOT has requested the city provide prison labor to weed the area and also to take care of the streetlights by the bridge.

“They’ve requested we take some of the responsibility,” Gardner said. “We’re taking their request under consideration.

“All those decisions haven’t been made yet and until that’s worked out, it’s the department of transportation’s responsibility.”

Broome agreed.

“It’s something we do talk with the city about since they are involved with the project but as far as responsibility, we’re responsible to see it getting done,” Broome said.

Gardner said as far as planting bushes and trees and laying mulch, the city is not equipped to do that.

“As far as the heavy stuff, the plants and all that, MDOT is looking to maintain that themselves,” Gardner said.

Janet Sullivan, assistant to MDOT commissioner Wayne Brown, said the department will continue mowing the area.

As far as everything else, that’s still be discussed.

“We haven’t gotten everything ironed out on that completely,” she said. “We’re still in negotiations.”

Gardner said regardless of who is responsible, it’s important to keep one of the major entrances to Natchez looking nice.

“We want to make sure everything is maintained real nice,” he said. “We’re proud of that intersection.”