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City prepares for next round of street repair program

City Engineer David Gardner and engineer technician Les Wallace examine potholes on Woodhaven Drive, one of the roads that Gardner believes needs the most repair. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

City Engineer David Gardner and engineer technician Les Wallace examine potholes on Woodhaven Drive, one of the roads that Gardner believes needs the most repair. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

NATCHEZ The City of Natchez plans to spend $600,000 on street improvements soon, but which streets will be repaired is still being finalized.

Funds for the project will come from Magnolia Bluffs Casino’s annual lease payment for city owned Roth Hill Road land.

The city used previous casino lease payments on similar repair projects the last two years.

This year, the city is committing $350,000 to overlay streets with asphalt and $250,000 for other streets to be micro-surfaced.

City Engineer David Gardner and Engineer Tech Les Wallace will begin street re-evaluations Monday, grading the top 50 streets based on their conditions on a one to 10 scale.

A street inventory list was created in 2013, but Gardner told the Natchez Board of Aldermen earlier this month he wanted to take another look at the list before simply moving ahead with the work.

“When it was last ranked, the surface conditions are different than what they are today,” Gardner said. “And some of them should have been ranked a little differently.”

Gardner used Woodhaven Drive as an example of a city street that should have been evaluated differently than other city streets.

“Woodhaven has a section that’s been overlaid in the last five, six, seven years, but the lower half hasn’t been touched in 25 to 30 years,” Gardner said. “But when it was initially ranked, there was no consideration it really needed to be split into two different rankings.

“Those types of things are what we want to correct and make sure that the list is more accurate and current.”

Some city aldermen expressed concern about streets in their wards that the city promised to repair before might get bumped off the list when re-evaluated.

Gardner said any shift of streets would likely not be significant.

“We’re going to focus on the top 50 of the list and make sure that those are ranked the way they should be,” Gardner said. “We’re not going to be able to get to all those streets, but that’s just all based on the amount of money we can spend.”

Gardner and Wallace inspected Woodhaven Drive Friday ahead of Monday’s official start. Woodhaven received an extra look, Gardner said, because it will need asphalt to cover the numerous potholes on the street.

W.E. Blain & Sons will be contracted to do asphalt work on the streets that meet the requirements to undergo construction.

“The contractor said that if we get him the list pretty quick, depending on rain and the weather, he will be able to start in March,” Gardner said.