City, MDOT negotiate bridge landscaping

Published 12:08 am Wednesday, June 11, 2008

NATCHEZ — A joint effort between the City of Natchez and the Mississippi Department of Transportation to maintain the greenery around the Liberty Road bridge is still being negotiated.

City engineer David Gardner is acting as liaison between the city and MDOT during the talks.

Gardner presented MDOT’s requests to the Natchez Board of Aldermen during their finance meeting before Tuesday’s regularly scheduled board meeting.

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Gardner said the city and MDOT are basically in agreement over which group will maintain certain aspects of the grounds keeping.

Gardner said MDOT has requested the city provide water to the site while MDOT will handle maintenance for the irrigation equipment.

In addition the city is also being asked to maintain lighting in the area.

“That’s not an unusual request,” Gardner said.

Gardner said the city is currently maintaining lighting in the area.

MDOT will be responsible for cutting the grass, replacing mulch and removing dead plants from the landscaped areas.

Gardner said the board of aldermen seemed a bit reluctant to agree to MDOT’s request for prison labor to weed and collect trash from the site twice a week.

“Right now we’re still negotiating,” he said.

Aldermen James “Ricky” Gray suggested a joint effort between the city, the county and MDOT where all three parties would devote prison labor for the maintenance.

“I think that makes sense,” Gray said.

Gardner said if the city has to use its current prison labor, as MDOT requested, that would divert the labor from other projects.

Gardner said he will be presenting the board’s ideas to MDOT for further discussion.

“We hope to get this finished soon,” he said.

During the board meeting Gardner announced the Natchez will receive $500,000 from the Army Corps of Engineers to improve storm drainage.

“It’s going to be a benefit to the city,” Gardner said.

In other news the board also approved a motion presented by attorney Walter Brown that sends the newly passed hotel assessment to the Mississippi Tax Commission for approval.

The tax collects $2 from each occupied bed in all of Natchez’s hotels.

The money will be used to market the city.