Vidalia rejects riverside project grant

Published 1:01 am Friday, April 20, 2018


NATCHEZ — Vidalia leaders rejected Friday a potentially fully funded infrastructure project to the town’s riverside district.

The rejection came after numerous contentious meetings on the topic.

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Most aspects of the project were voted down 3-2 after some aldermen cited concerns about the project’s potentially undesirable effects on the town.

The Louisiana Department of Transportation conducted a study that led to suggestions of adding bike lanes, parallel parking zones, speed bumps and relocating stop signs, mainly for safety purposes.

A few residents that attended Thursday’s meeting echoed those concerns, among them, Wilson Street resident Destiney Robb, who primarily voiced concerns about how the project could be harmful from a preservation standpoint.

She also voiced concerns about the various 18-wheeler trucks that frequently pass through the residential area, a problem she said city leaders should target rather than this project.

Part of the project was supposed to address such trucks by widening a section of Wilson Street. Currently, parts of the road are too narrow, forcing the trucks to go off the road, consultant Bert Moore said.

Moore addressed some concerns from both residents and aldermen, saying that the recommendations made for the project are ultimately to improve safety.

He said, however, that whether the town implemented all, some or no parts of the contract was the aldermen’s prerogative.

“Personally, I think installing a pedestrian facility and on-street parking through here would be a nice enhancement,” Moore said.

“I think it will be a nice enhancement, but it’s totally up to the council and the mayor and the people of Vidalia if it gets implemented or what they want to do with their roadway system.”

Alderwoman Sabrina Dore reiterated concerns about how the project could add unnecessary items for the town to maintain, while Alderman Tron McCoy said the concerns he had heard from residents swayed him away from the project.

As for all the time spent mulling over the project, McCoy said the board would have been better off trying to figure out a way to divert truck routes away from residential areas, such as Robb’s.

McCoy then made a motion that the town not move forward with portions of the project that involve Wilson Street, Riverside Drive and Concordia Avenue. Dore, McCoy and Alderman Tommy Probst voted in favor of the motion, while aldermen Robert Gardner and Jon Betts dissented.