City officials looking to add more money to road-paving budget
Published 12:01 am Monday, June 15, 2015
NATCHEZ — City officials are working on paving the way for smoother streets — literally.
During its regular meeting Tuesday, the Natchez Board of Aldermen discussed adding $350,000 to the city’s road-paving budget, which currently has a balance of $150,000.
So far this year, the city has spent approximately $450,000 on paving roads.
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Natchez Mayor Butch Brown said the added funds would be used for a second round of street overlays and micro-seal treatments.
“It’s expensive to pave streets,” Brown said.
Normally, Brown said the city spends approximately $500,000 a year on street repairs, with funds mostly coming from Magnolia Bluffs Casino lease payments to the city for use of its Roth Hill Road property.
However, with the tricentennial year looming, Brown said extra pressure has been placed on the city to get streets in tip-top shape.
Natchez Public Works Supervisor Justin Dollar said the first round of street repair is scheduled to be complete within the next two months.
If the board of aldermen approves an additional $350,000 for street paving, Dollar said the city’s Public Works department would begin a second round of street repair sometime in September or October.
“Hopefully we can get the second phase approved,” Dollar said. “I think people would be pleased, because these projects get inside neighborhoods and get the streets repaired.”
Joyce Prewitt, who lives on Cherry Street in Natchez Ward 3, said she is glad the city is making street repair a priority.
“It’s really pitiful,” 70-year-old Prewitt said of the condition of Cherry Street, which boasts two potholes. “Especially when it rains, this street gets deep puddles everywhere — it’s terrible for driving.”
Cherry Street is one of several remaining in the city’s first round of street repair.
Linden Drive, Mississippi Avenue, Conner Circle, Emerald Court, and Dunleith and Natchez streets are all set to receive overlay treatment, which entails pouring a 1.5-inch thick layer of asphalt on top of the street.
Depending on the weather, Dollar said he anticipates those streets to receive treatment before the summer is over.
“Those are all residential areas,” Dollar said.
If a second phase of repair is approved, Brown said he would like to see portions of downtown repaved, as that area will be a heavy-traffic spot during the tricentennial.
“There is going to be a ton of activities around the convention center and on the bluff, so we want to address the Broadway Street area,” Brown said.
Ward 1 Alderwoman Joyce Arceneaux-Mathis agreed with Brown, but said even if the city wasn’t celebrating its tricentennial next year, repaving streets should happen regardless.
“Obviously we want the city to look good, but we want it to look good all the time,” Arceneaux-Mathis said. “People don’t need to be riding over potholes.”
Ward 6 Alderman Dan Dillard said he would also like to see the city execute the second phase of street repair, but only if funds allow.
“If those monies are available, it is the intention of the aldermen to use that for a second round of asphalt,” Dillard said.
Brown said by the beginning of July, the board should have a solid grasp of where it stands financially.
If funds are available, Brown said the board would then look at city streets and determine which ones should be included in the second phase.
“Traffic, location, density — all these things go into judging the makeup of the street and its condition,” Brown said. “We would rank streets all over Natchez.”
In the meantime, Prewitt said she is simply looking forward to the day she can drive smoothly up to her Cherry Street residence.
“The street is awful, and I can’t wait to see something get done,” she said.