City approves contract to repave North State north of Fortification

By ANTHONY WARREN,

While Jackson city officials had not decided how and if they were going to fund the complete reconstruction of one section of North State Street, they have signed off on plans to repave another.

Recently, the Jackson City Council approved bringing on Waggoner Engineering to design a project to repave North State between Fortification Street and Woodrow Wilson Avenue.

The contract is for approximately $284,000, and will be paid for with a portion of the $1.4 million in federal dollars the city received for the work.

The funds are coming from the federal “Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act,” and were awarded to the city through the Central Mississippi Planning and Development District.

“Hopefully, we’ll get (this project) off the ground in 2018,” Engineering Manager Charles Williams told the council.

Because federal dollars are being used for the project, each step must be signed off on by the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT).

The first initial review of the plans will likely be in the next six months, Williams said.

The council approved the measure on a 5-1 vote. Ward Three Councilman Kenneth Stokes voted against it.

Stokes and Ward Four Councilman De’Keither Stamps asked why so much money was being spent on North State.

“I need to be able to articulate something of equity back to west and south Jackson, as they see major investment in one part of Jackson,” Stamps said.

The city is considering spending an estimated $19.5 million to completely reconstruct North State from Hartfield Road to Sheppard Street.

That project is being funded in large part with a $19.5 million TIGER grant, which is being split between North State and West County Line Road.

Combined, both TIGER projects are expected to cost around $38.5 million.

The projects were supposed to bid out for construction in June. However, city officials had not determined how the work would be paid for.

Jackson city practices requires 100 percent of the funds to be on-hand before officials can bid out a project. However, only has about $9 million on hand.

Former Mayor Tony Yarber proposed issuing a $90 million bond to help pay for the work, but new Mayor Chokwe Lumumba had not decided if he would support issuing bond debt for the projects.

The city has also asked the one-percent oversight commission to commit additional monies to the work. So far, commissioners have allocated $4 million.

North State is one of the Northside’s busier thoroughfares, averaging around 18,000 vehicles a day between Fortification and Woodrow Wilson, and around 14,000 a day from Sheppard to Hartfield, according to MDOT traffic maps.

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1. He drove a blue ‘77 Chevy Nova in high school. 2. He played on Jackson Prep’s 1985 and 1986 state championship basketball teams.