City funds restored for street overlays

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 30, 2010

NATCHEZ — Five months ago, the City of Natchez learned additional federal funding for street overlay projects had been cut indefinitely. Not so anymore.

Approximately $342,000 has been restored to the city’s federal aid urban fund, and the Natchez Board of Aldermen has submitted a priority list of streets in need of repair to City Engineer David Gardner.

The aldermen agreed portions of Liberty Road, Ratcliff Road, Brenham Avenue, Woodlawn Avenue and Melrose Avenue are top priority.

Liberty Road and Ratcliff Road were placed at the top of the list after Ward 6 Alderman Dan Dillard said roads in Wards 5 and 6 have received little to no attention since his time in office.

“The city has spent $3.2 million on roads in three years,” Dillard said. “Of that $3.2 million, Ward 5 has got nothing and Ward 6 has got a tenth of a mile.

“If you spend 10 times as much money here than in these wards, it’s not equitable.”

Ward 5 Alderman Mark Fortenbery was also adamant about fairly distributing street projects among the wards.

“All I’m asking for is Liberty Road,” Fortenbery said.

The remaining priority roads fall in Aldermen James “Ricky” Gray and Ernest “Tony” Fields’ wards, Wards 2 and 4.

Before the U.S. Congress cut the city’s FAU funding, the city had set aside $1 million in its FAU budget. Gardner said $602,000 went to the Union Street overlay project.

The city obligated funds for the Union Street overlay before the cut. The remaining $398,000 had not been assigned to a specific project, and Congress rescinded that amount.

Gardner said the engineering department will now survey the roads and consult the Mississippi Department of Transportation about needed repairs.

“We’ve got to get all the paperwork and information in to MDOT by May 28,” Gardner said.

Gardner said the restored FAU monies will most likely not fund all the priority streets.

“Liberty, Ratcliff and Brenham will likely take it all,” Gardner said. “But we won’t know for sure until we start measuring and surveying.”