From the Mayor’s Desk: Morgantown Road — another try

Published 11:45 am Saturday, April 20, 2024

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In my last column, I wrote of the importance of getting to work for the citizens of Natchez to make the next four years, which is about to be the second term of this administration, great for our city.

This week, I’d like to begin drilling down on the key issues – and first on that list is Morgantown Road.

Four years ago, when I was first running to be your mayor, I made a commitment to get the long-anticipated resurfacing of Morgantown Road done. Little did I know what a daunting task this would turn out to be.

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I want to first say that nothing happens without teamwork, and I am very grateful to the Adams County Board of Supervisors for their many years of leadership on this project. Working with them, especially Supervisors Ricky Gray and Warren Gaines, whose districts are most affected by the condition of this important roadway, has been a pleasure. And I can’t find words to describe the steadfast leadership of Ward Five Alderman Benjamin Davis, who has from day one been urging all of us on to a solution.

Getting funds together to make this project happen was our first priority in the first term, and it has now been a year and a half since we shared the exciting news that the paving of Morgantown Road was fully funded and we were finally positioned to proceed with the project. Everyone was excited. And then the realities of 2023 robbed us of that excitement.

Anyone traveling this road will be the first to tell you that the news we shared in November of 2022 has now been long forgotten. All are wondering: “When will this dangerous road, the portion that runs between the city and county limits, finally be repaired?” Indeed, the hope we had when we began bidding on the project last year quickly gave way to frustration.

Two attempts to bid on the first and most important phase of the project, addressing the terrible drainage issues, failed to secure bids within our budgeted amount. Ultimately, the decision was made to ask the engineers to redesign the entire project, and that was a tough call – meaning more delays, but we had no choice. All have been frustrated – me, the aldermen, and the supervisors. And no one has been more frustrated than the countless citizens directly impacted – those who live along this road and have to travel it daily.

I am grateful to say that hope is again in the air, thanks to work done by the county’s engineering team, IMS Engineers and in particular Natchezian and lead engineer George Ford.

In just a few months, Mr. Ford and IMS have completed a mammoth task, and we now have what appears to be a workable design that will accomplish what we have been trying so hard to do.

The city and county have now approved bidding the project for a third time. As a headline in The Natchez Democrat summed it up last week, let’s pray that “the third time will be the charm.” Because Deserves More.

Dan M. Gibson is mayor of Natchez.