MDOT planning millions in projects

Published 12:02 am Thursday, February 26, 2015

Nita McCann

The Natchez Democrat

NATCHEZ — The Mississippi Department of Transportation plans to spend millions of dollars on engineering projects in Adams County.

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According to MDOT, bridge maintenance is one of the highest ticket items, followed by landslide repair and improvements to two intersections.

Such projects are included in MDOT’s five-year plan, and are estimated to cost a total of $18.71 million, said District 7 engineer Albert White.

And local governments do not have to match those funds.

“Some of these items are the result of a statewide initiative, not just Adams County,” White said.

Other projects are uniquely Natchez.

Those include ongoing maintenance of the Mississippi River Bridge, for which almost $2.2 million has been allocated.

“If it’s a statewide priority or a safety concern, those take priority,” White said.

Bridge maintenance is an ongoing priority for MDOT, and it has to be, said David Gardner, an engineer for the City of Natchez and ex-MDOT engineer.

“It’s a metal bridge that’s out in the elements and built in the 1930s,” Gardner said. “The pins helping hold everything together need to be replaced.”

Even painting such a structure is essential, Gardner said, noting that otherwise corrosion would set in.

Landslide repair is also a priority — especially with Natchez’s type of soil, Gardner said.

“Slides happen because the clay in our soil makes the soil expand,” Gardner added.

White met a few weeks ago in Natchez for a briefing with former MDOT Executive Director Mayor Butch Brown and Gardner.

Although the city does not have a part in planning or funding state projects, such a meeting is done to make sure state and local officials are on the same page, Gardner said.

“Sometimes (MDOT) will hold public meetings just as a courtesy to the local community,” he said. “They’re not required to.”

Gardener said good communication between state and local governments on such projects is key to bringing millions of dollars of state funds to this community.

“They’ve invested a lot of money in this area, and we certainly appreciate it,” he said.

Projects set for the next five years in Adams County include:

4Maintenance of the Mississippi River bridge, at a cost of almost $11.5 million.

4$4.5 million for repairing landslide repair near the intersection of Mississippi 555 and U.S. 61.

4$2.75 million for repairing landslides near the intersection of U.S. 61 and Highland Boulevard.