Leaders push for construction, infrastructure projects in D.C.

Published 1:01 am Monday, January 29, 2018

NATCHEZ — The Belwood levee, millions of dollars in potential grant money and ownership of the Natchez Visitor Reception Center were all local topics brought to Washington, D.C., last week.

A group of both Natchez and Adams County officials spent two full days lobbying in our nation’s capital on various Natchez projects.

County officials met with a representative from Delta Regional Authority to discuss funding for phase three of a project to install a levee at the former Belwood Country Club site.

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The first two phases received DRA funding totaling approximately $1.7 million, though a few millions more is required to complete the project.

Though the outcome remains to be seen, District 1 Supervisor Mike Lazarus said those with whom he and District 2 Supervisor David Carter met expressed support for the project.

Another topic of discussion is the county’s application for millions of dollars to repair county roads via the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program.

This year Adams County applied for a TIGER discretionary grant — awarded by the U.S. Department of Transportation — in conjunction with Wilkinson County for between $16 million and $18 million to repair a bevy of bridges and roads in both counties.

This week marked the second time in three months Lazarus met with U.S. congressional delegates such as Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss) and Rep. Gregg Harper (R-Miss).

Lazarus said delegates have written letters of support for the counties as they are considered for the grant.

As for Natchez, the city has a TIGER grant of its own up for consideration.

City aldermen voted to apply for a grant to cover an estimated $13.5 million dock, proposed for construction off Roth Hill Road.

“We got great feedback for the dock,” Ward 3 Alderwoman Sarah Smith said.

Schematics for the dock revealed in September showed the dock accommodating two large vessels, as city officials hope the structure would go a long way toward boosting tourism.

Of the total cost, the TIGER grant would cover approximately $11.2 million, based off estimates. The projected budget listed $1.85 million of other federal or state funds and $500,000 in local funds covering the remaining expenses.

Though many of the agenda items for the D.C. trip concerned infrastructure or construction, one other item dealt with the ownership of the Natchez Visitor Center.

Both Smith and Natchez Mayor Darryl Grennell said they received support about transferring ownership from the city to the National Parks Service, including from Cochran.

“I … appreciate the strong partnership the community has with the National Park Service, and will continue to work to support that relationship,” Cochran said.

Grennell said the city would know more in two to three weeks once the federal government finalizes its fiscal year 2018 budget.