Dan Gaillet on Madison County Roads
Dan Gaillet serves as the county engineer for Madison County. Gaillet is a graduate of Mississippi State University, where he earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees in civil engineering. He has previously worked for the Ross Barnett Reservoir as deputy director, director of public works for the city of Jackson and director of public works in the city of Biloxi. Gaillet recently spoke with Sun reporter Nikki Rowell about some ongoing and upcoming road projects in Madison County.
How much does Madison County spend on road projects each year?
“It varies. The goal when this administration came on board was really to pave roads and to move traffic. So, that’s the direction we’ve been going over the last three years now. It varies. There was a lot of preliminary work done early on. We did a big study looking at the movement of traffic in the area that encompassed Highway 51 to the east, Highway 22 to the north and 463 to the west. We went in to see how traffic was moving and from that, a number of projects were identified, short, mid and long term. Some of those have been accomplished at this point. We’re moving into some that are taking a little bit longer. Then again, the availability of funds that we try to pull together. The first meeting of February, by law, we are required to put a four-year road plan together. So, that four-year road plan kind of lays out what we anticipate doing as far as paving roads and what have you.”
Is that plan set in stone, or is the county able to adjust it as needed?
“It gets tweaked all the time. This year’s plan had about $77 million worth of roads identified that need work. Obviously, over time we will work toward that goal. But that list is subject to change at any time.”
Would you say this administration has been successful in tackling those projects?
“I think we’ve been very successful. We’ve heard it from our constituents. I’ve had many of our constituents compliment us and make the statement that they’re actually seeing the work being done. I’ve had people say, ‘We’ve never seen this much road work going on in the county like we do now.’ We know we have a long way to go, but we’re trying to go after those areas that are really needing help both from the paving and the moving of traffic. So, we’re trying to make sure we can get our citizens around the county safely and quickly.”
What are some of the top projects coming up in 2019?
“One of the big priorities, I think it was identified last year as a top priority of the county, is the interchange at Reunion Parkway. There are two more segments to that project. We’ve started acquiring right of way on the third phase, which is from 51 over to the Parkway. We hope to break ground late this year or early next year. Realistically, it will probably be early next year. With the Reunion Parkway, we paved phase one in 2016, which is from 463 over to Bozeman. Phase three is what we’re working on right now and starting to acquire right of way. The middle segment, the bridge over the interstate, we are currently doing an environmental study on that. We expect that to be done sometime in late summer, which will then move us into the next phase of that for design and that sort of thing. We’re working with MDOT and federal highway on that project. Then, our next big project that we’re starting to move into is Bozeman Road from 463 up to Gluckstadt. We’re starting to acquire right of way for that project as well. We actually have a field review with MDOT and then we will begin to acquire right of way. That’s going to be a lengthy process. We’re advertising for construction of Weisenberger right now, adding an eastbound lane from the railroad tracks back toward Highway 51. Hopefully, we will be breaking ground on that within the next couple of months. We are currently purchasing right of way on Gluckstadt Road between Bozeman and Distribution Drive, which is just west of the interstate. Hopefully late this year we can break ground on it.”
We hear a lot of concerns from our readers about traffic congestion on 463 and that surrounding area during peak times. Will these projects help alleviate some of that?
“We hope. Certainly, once the interchange is in place it will hopefully alleviate much of the traffic on 463.”
How does the county select which road projects take priority?
“A lot of the big projects we’re working on fell out of that big study that we did. Certainly, input from the citizens and working through the supervisors helps. The supervisors have a list of projects that they want to see get completed.”
What is the proper way to seek county aid with a road that needs repair?
“Initially, contact us to see if it is something that the engineering or road departments can handle. Start at our level to see if there’s something we can do. If it’s anything really more than typical maintenance, certainly start with us, but we may have to go to the supervisors and have a discussion about it to see if we can line up funding or a contractor or whatever it takes to get the job done. Unfortunately, like every city and county, the needs are outdoing the funding that is available. So, we do have to evaluate and look at where it lands on a priority list. Obviously, those areas with a lot more traffic tend to get more priority.”