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Aldermen review street repair lists in work session

By Sarah Cook

NATCHEZ — For Natchez, spring means blooming flowers, warmer weather, longer days — and plenty of road repairs.

At their work session Wednesday, the board of aldermen heard a thorough update of city street conditions from David Gardner, city engineer.

If the board accepts his plan, Gardner said road repairs would begin in March and carry on through the summer months.

Gardner presented two lists to the board — one outlining roads that need overlay treatment and another detailing streets in need of micro seal repair.

“Overlay means putting on a complete, 1 1/2-inch thick asphalt surface,” Gardner explained. “Like painting a house, it’s just a fresh coat that goes right on top.”

Streets in dire need of overlay treatment, according to Gardner’s list, are Reynolds, Dunleith, Old Metcalfe and Shaw streets, along with Woodhaven Drive.

After receiving a fresh coat of asphalt, Gardner said streets should be in good condition for seven to 10 years.

“We get a lot more life out of our streets in Natchez, though,” Gardner said. “Especially in these neighborhood streets where traffic isn’t as high.”

Other roads like Turtle Lane, Westwood Road and Alabama Street may need just a simple micro seal treatment, Gardner said.

Micro seal is emulsified asphalt that penetrates into road cracks and seals the surface.

“It’s best to seal a street every three or five years, then you might never have to overlay,” he said. “You just have to use your judgment to determine if a street deserves overlay or micro seal treatment.”

Main Street, Gardner said, is a good candidate for micro seal because it only has a few cracks and minor repair needs.

After presenting his plan to the board, Gardner outlined a suggested budget for two projects — one in the spring and another in summer. Combining both projects, Gardner estimated the job would cost the city $700,000, which would be funded by Magnolia Bluff Casino lease payments.

“We would need about $400,000 for overlay, $150,000 for micro seal and $50,000 for miscellaneous purposes,” Garner said. “Miscellaneous purposes include prepping streets for repair, widening areas with sharp curves and leveling bumpy areas.”

Overlay repairs can start as early as March, while micro seal treatment would need several months of contracting before it can be executed, Gardner said.

Aldermen Sarah Carter Smith and Mark Fortenbery suggested the board repair roads according to Gardner’s list.

“I think we should all agree to go by the list, that way the public knows what roads will be repaired,” Fortenbery said.

Tony Fields, Ward 4 representative, had a different opinion.

“I firmly believe we can come up with a plan that covers most of the city, but I think we need to make sure each ward is represented (in the plan,)” Fields said.

The board of aldermen will vote on the plan at their regular meeting Tuesday, held in the council chambers at 115 S. Pearl St.

“The street program is a wonderful program. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time and now that the city is gaining revenue, I think this is a wise commitment,” said Gardner, who will be resigning from his position March 31. “When I inspected the streets, I was just really amazed by how some of the streets have deteriorated, and that’s why I’m urging the aldermen to overlay a lot of these roads.”

 

 

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