Morgantown residents still wait on roadwork

Published 12:12 am Wednesday, February 19, 2020

NATCHEZ — Nearly 20 years since the inception of a $1 million project to widen and resurface Morgantown Road, Adams County officials say they are working diligently to get the project done.

Doris Drake, who lives on Dogwood Drive just off of Morgantown Road, asked the Adams County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday if the repaving of Morgantown Road would begin anytime in 2020 but did not receive a definitive answer.

District 4 Supervisor, James “Ricky” Gray, said the project is still awaiting results from a final lawsuit that would grant the county all the easements needed to widen the road and dig drainage ditches along either side.

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The original project design in 2005 included a turn-lane to lessen the effects of heavy traffic, Gray said. However, pushback from residents who believed a three-lane road would eat too far into their property line forced officials to redesign the project, he said.

“When people are fighting you on a project, it can take a long time,” Gray said. “… We’ve been working on Morgantown Road since 2004 and I came on as a supervisor in 2006. … When I became a supervisor, they had designs for Morgantown Road that the citizens who lived on that road weren’t happy with. … We took the turn-lane out and redesigned the project. From there, we’ve had problems with easements. Some of the residents did not want to give up their easements. Most of them did, but some of them didn’t. We wound up going to court and have the eminent domain on most of those properties and are still fighting today. … I realize it has been a long time, but I assure you we’re working on it as hard as we can.”

Gray said funding for the project had also been lost.

The county had previously been approved for State Aid funds for Morgantown Road but after years of working to gain easements on more than 60 land parcels the state funds were spent, Gray said.

“We might have to go a different route for getting that money back, but I’m positive that it is going to work out,” Gray said.

The project was conceived within a few years of the death of an 18-year-old crossing guard Casey Schrock, who was killed at the intersection of Morgantown and Booker roads in 2001.

Two weeks ago, a 40-year-old pedestrian, Daniel Lee Davis Jr., died after being struck by a vehicle sometime after 7 p.m. on Morgantown Road, Adams County officials said.

Drake also asked supervisors if it would be possible to have street lamps along the road. However, officials said street lamps are only provided in the city limits and not on county roadways.

“I’m fresh and new here, but I can say this about Morgantown Road. I have heard concerns, but we (the supervisors) have come together and presented this project to the legislators,” District 5 Supervisor Warren Gaines said during Tuesday’s meeting. “… We’ve been out there. We’ve taken pictures when it was raining and when it was dry and we have a lot of good evidence backing this project. We have plenty of residents out there in favor of it and have a pretty good package together that we will be presenting to our legislators and will also be presenting in Washington, D.C. I want the residents of Morgantown to know that we have not forgotten you. We are working hard to get that road done. I travel that road also. I travel it frequently, so I know what you’re dealing with Sometimes you might not see a lot happening, but we are moving and we are working hard to get the residents of Morgantown satisfied with that road.”