County state aid debated, funding limited

Published 12:29 am Thursday, September 7, 2017


NATCHEZ — On the heels of the city requesting the county use its state-aid money to fund a pipe project on Highland Boulevard, supervisors discussed Tuesday several state-aid projects.

The city is requesting the county replace or repair a rusted out pipe that could cause Highland Boulevard to collapse. The portion of Highland Boulevard that could cave in is near Pecan Way, which is within the city limits.

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However, in the past Highland Boulevard was paved by the county with state-aid money, so some city leaders consider the pipe to be the county’s responsibility. City leaders are not sure they could use federal aid for a road that had been funded by state-aid money. The city does not get state-aid money for roads, only counties do.

County Engineer Jim Marlow said the city or county would need to fund a $6,000 pipe camera for a precise estimate on how much the repair project would cost. Marlow said depending on the extent of the damage, the cost could easily range between $30,000 to $100,000.

However, Marlow said State Park Road would likely eat up the county’s remaining $140,000 in state-aid projects for this cycle. District 5 Supervisor Calvin Butler said he would put his foot down on Highland Boulevard if it would take money away from State Park Road.

“State Park Road has to get done,” Butler said.

The State Park Road project would overlay a 1.3-mile section from U.S. 61 past the entrance to the Natchez State Park. The project also includes striping and drainage improvements, Butler said. The cost is $1.8 million, Marlow said.

Board of Supervisors President Mike Lazarus said he did not think supervisors would vote to repair the pipe if it meant taking away money from Butler’s district, which Butler has said is the least paved district in the county.

City Public Works Supervisor Justin Dollar said last week the clock is ticking down on the pipe’s future.

“The million-dollar question is how long will it last, six months? Three years?” Dollar said. “It will have to be repaired.”

The county did not take action on the pipe, but while Marlow was present, two supervisors asked about other state aid projects.

District 4 Supervisor Ricky Gray, along with Butler, asked about the state-aid project on Morgantown Road.

The Morgantown Road project has been ongoing since 2005, beginning with a traffic study. Rights-of-way work began in 2009.

Last year, several residents expressed concern about the turning lanes designed into the project, as in their opinion, the lanes took too much property from some owners and were unnecessary.

The county changed its plans to only overlay the road and complete drainage work. Taking the turning lanes out also enabled the county to pave more roadway.

In the new plan, the county will pave from near U.S. 61 out to the Booker and Redd Loop roads intersection.

Gray said the county has spent a lot of money on this project and as far as area residents can see, nothing has been done.

“No project in America should last that many years,” Gray said. “If we started the old project like the new one, it would have been finished before I got here (became a county supervisor).

“Sometimes you can put stuff in to make people mad and a project never gets done. I would not allow (the county) to take my property.”

Marlow said he hoped to have plans back next week to enable Slover to begin working on Morgantown Road rights-of-way.

Supervisors voted to give Adams County Board Attorney Scott Slover permission to proceed with the right-of-way process on Morgantown and State Park roads.