New road will give trucks better access to port

Published 12:12 am Friday, September 16, 2011

ERIC SHELTON | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT Employees from the Blain Companies perform construction work on a new road Thursday morning near Government Fleet Road in Natchez. The road will connect Government Fleet Road to the port, which will provide easier access.

NATCHEZ — Tractors continued to slice through the bluff near Government Fleet Road Thursday to make way for a new road that will help old, new and prospective companies reach the port without tearing through neighborhoods.

Truck drivers, who will eventually have approximately six miles cut off their round trips once the Government Fleet Road extension is completed in approximately one year, will also catch a unique view of the Mississippi River.

“It’s a nice project,” Natchez Inc. Executive Director Chandler Russ said.

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“It’s going to be a huge benefit to the current businesses down there as well as the future business and industry looking to locate down there.”

Leonard Payne watches as Johnny Hollingsworth works to clear a path with a bulldozer.

Doug Wimberly, an engineer with Adams County’s contractual engineering firm Jordan, Kaiser and Sessions LLC, said W.E. Blain and Sons signed a 440-day contract and began construction of the road in July.

“It was delayed due to the river level,” Wimberly said, referring to the flooding of the Mississippi River in late May and early June

Wimberly said crews are mostly doing earthwork right now, as well as driving pilings for the bridge.

A 190-foot bridge from the Government Fleet Extension will help connect the road to L.E. Barry Road at the port, Wimberly said.

He said the bridge will cross over the railroad tracks at the port and will be built 24 feet above the tracks.

The bridge plans required unique engineering specifications because of a steep slope and curve required by the topography of the area, Adams County Board of Supervisors President Darryl Grennell has said.

Wimberly said his firm contracted out a private structural engineer for the bridge to adapt to the unique requirements.

The existing route to the port from U.S. 84 follows Providence Road from Government Fleet Road, where the trucks pass residential areas and drive 4.6-miles.

“(The extension) will drop it to two miles,” Wimberly said.

Russ said the Government Fleet Road extension helped draw Elevance Renewable Sciences to the area.

Russ said the company, which plans to invest $225 million in Adams County, requested the port access road be built.

“Part of the deal was the completion of a port connector road, and fortunately for us that was actually on the books,” Russ said.

Elevance, a specialty chemical company, might require 20 to 40 trucks to use the Government Fleet Road extension a day, Russ said.

The county has been working with the Mississippi Department Of Transportation on the $3.6 million Government Fleet Road extension project for approximately seven years.

The National Highway System Intermodal Connector Improvement Program is funding 80 percent of the project’s cost, and now the county’s $500,000 match is being grouped and financed with Elevance-related port improvements for cost efficiency, Adams County’s financial advisor Demery Grubbs said in August.