Roadway widening for HWY 11 discussed at Picayune City Council meeting
The expansion plans for Highway 11 were discussed at length during Tuesday night’s Picayune city council meeting.
Mississippi Department of Transportation sent Gabe Faggard, Assistant District Engineer, to address the council and give an update on the project.
Faggard first assured the council that despite previous reports, MDOT does in fact have the funds available to proceed with the project and it is a priority for the department.
“One of the first things Commissioner (Tom) King did when I took over my position in 2014 was outline several projects with me that were important to him,” Faggard said. “This is one of those projects.”
The expansion project is said to start in front of Hide-A-Way Lake subdivision and end with a new bridge across Boley Creek.
Phase one of the project, the widening of US Hwy 11, is expected to begin in late 2017 or early 2018, explained Faggard, with phase two, the new Hwy 11 bridge, beginning in 2020.
Faggard went on to explain that the new bridge crossing Boley Creek will be built just to the east of the existing bridge, leaving the existing bridge open through the construction process.
When asked by the council about the possibility of a pedestrian walk way as part of the new bridge design, Faggard said the bridge will be wide enough for it, but that part is “still up in the air.”
“It’s going to come down to what the budget ultimately is,” Faggard explained. “If the city is strongly interested in that I would advise (the council) to sit down and have more discussions with Commissioner King about that.”
Budget was a topic of concern during the discussion, mainly the city’s own financial investment in the project. The city of Picayune has a population size exceeding 10,000 which will make it responsible for relocating its utilities, according to state law.
Larry Breland explained that his concerns are not with the project itself but with MDOT and the recent cuts the department has faced.
“I would hate for our city to go through moving the utilities and all of a sudden (the project) gets scrapped and there’s nothing anybody can do about it,” Breland said.
“The good thing about this one is we’ve invested already in the right of way, we have the right of way already there,” Faggard said. “When you invest the money and move the utilities that’s really the final step before we begin construction. We’re working with consultants, we’re pushing a design and we’re here tonight talking to you. We fully intend on building this.”
MDOT already invested $6.8 million in right of way acquisitions, with another $4.6 million anticipated. MDOT’s construction costs for this project are estimated to be $8.4 million for the roadway widening and $9.5 million for the construction of the new bridge. The city’s expenses for the project have yet to be assessed.
A new training facility is in the works for the Picayune Police Department. While the project was not discussed during the meeting, a donation of labor and material, from Patrick Lee, was accepted by council to build the facility.
An additional donation of building material surplus from Walmart was also accepted by council to be used as needed.
Picayune City Council meetings are held every other Tuesday at 5:00pm in City Hall.