List of roads approved for stimulus work

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 31, 2009

NATCHEZ — Canal, State, Pearl, Commerce, Rankin and Washington streets, plus a section of Melrose Avenue, have received approval for stimulus-funded roadwork.

The city received word Monday from the Mississippi Department of Transportation that the city-submitted road list was accepted.

Now, after the board of aldermen officially OKs the list, the city must prove to MDOT that all the roads are clear for work.

Email newsletter signup

Then the construction work will be bid out, Gardner said.

But this project most likely won’t be handled by the City of Natchez, but by MDOT, he said, because of the stimulus money.

“This is something new,” he said. “(MDOT) is going through the newness of it just like we are.”

The money — $662,000 — is coming through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and it probably won’t ever sit in city coffers, Gardner said. MDOT will likely oversee construction and handle the money.

To be eligible for the money, the roads have to be Federal Aid Urban streets. An FAU is a road that carries most of the area’s traffic and either serves as a main artery or collects traffic that is headed to a main artery.

Gardner said many Natchez roads qualify for the funds, but the city sought to get the biggest bang for its buck.

By grouping the roads together, money won’t have to be spent on moving crews and equipment across town, he said. And the downtown roads selected are roads that service nearly everyone in town, Gardner said.

A portion of Melrose Avenue was added to the list at the request of Alderman Dan Dillard.

The city receives outside monies to work on FAU roads every three years, but those dollars often go fast. The stimulus money opens a new door for work.

“You can catch some of these streets that have been basically neglected from that program and haven’t had any work that amounts to anything in 25 years,” Gardner said.

And by working quickly and appropriately with this first set of stimulus dollars, Gardner is hopeful the city might just earn more. He said Natchez has an advantage because of its full-time engineering department, something some towns and cities don’t have.

“If we can make a good show and get approvals very quickly, it would look favorable to the city to get additional funds,” he said. “I really don’t feel like every city in the state is going to be able to do this. We already have the staff on hand, and we are more apt to get something done quicker.”

More money would mean more roads could receive work.

“There are limitless other recommendations we can do,” he said.

Gardner said he has no idea when roadwork would start or finish. But he said he was hopeful to see some work begin this summer.

The current approval includes milling and overlay work on:

Canal Street from Jefferson to Madison streets

State Street from Broadway to Martin Luther King Jr. streets

Pearl Street from State to Jefferson streets

Commerce Street from Orleans to Jefferson streets

Rankin Street from Orleans to Jefferson streets

Washington Street from Broadway to Martin Luther King Jr. streets

Melrose Avenue from Ratcliffe Place to Roselawn Avenue