City Council hears update on Hwy 11 widening project

At the last night’s meeting of the Picayune City Council, Public Works Director Eric Morris gave the council an update on the latest meeting with Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) in regards to the widening of Highway 11 over Boley Creek from Cayten Street south to the end of the bridge and north to Lakeshore Drive.

Morris (standing at the podium in the photo) told the council that MDOT is looking at March 2019 for letting of bids to begin the work. Currently, Dungan Engineering is in the process of finishing the prints which will detail the movement of utilities in anticipation of the bridge and road construction. Morris said Dungan is about 90 percent complete with the prints.

According to Morris, the project has changed numerous times with MDOT defining the project in one phase and multiple phases. Currently, the project is divided into two phases with Phase I defined as Cayten Street north to Lakeshore Drive and Phase II as Cayten Street south to the end of the Highway 11 bridge over Boley Creek.

Councilman Wayne Gouguet inquired about the presence of a bike / walking lane on a new bridge. Morris said this was not specifically mentioned in last week meeting with MDOT. Gouguet voiced his concern on what an absence of the walking lane would mean stating, “It kind of cuts our city in half not having that across there.”

Gouguet suggested a resolution from the city to the MDOT that would demonstrate that the bridge must have the bike / walking lane. City Manager Jim Luke said he will reach out to the highway department to ensure the city uses the proper method in stating their desire to ensure the bike / walking lane is included.

Brooks Wallace of Dungan Engineering stated that MDOT will reimburse 37 percent of the work for the cost of relocation of utilities in preparation for the building of a new bridge over Boley Creek. Wallace said that he would recommend that the Pearl River Utility Authority and the city have one contract for relocation of water, sewer, and natural gas lines with the city of Picayune contracting the work with a contractor and the utility authority pay the city and the city pay the contractor for the work. Wallace also stated the importance of being the first to get their prints turned in to MDOT to avoid having to work around other utilities.

Morris stated that MDOT has indicated that money to complete the project was appropriated, but he cautioned the city that they should ensure that funding is truly available before starting the relocation of utilities and letting the bids.