Thanks to the Mississippi legislature’s recent bond bill, the Pearl River Valley Water Supply District (PRVWSD) was granted funds to do much needed dredging in Pelahatchie Bay. Additional money could aid the district in its efforts to relocate the Bob Anthony Parkway.
HB 1730 established a special fund to be designated as the 2020 Pearl River Valley Water Supply District Dredging Fund within the state treasury, with $2 million to assist the district in paying the costs associated with the dredging of Pelahatchie Bay and road improvements for the Bob Anthony Parkway.
Dredging is the removal of sediments and debris from the bottom of a body of water. It is required on a routine basis due to sedimentation, which is the process of sand and silt washing downstream.
However, according to PRVWSD General Manager John Sigman, the process is expensive, which only allows for a portion of the lake to be completed at a time.
“We have been able to dredge only every few years,” Sigman said. “Not nearly enough. Dredging is incredibly expensive.”
Sigman said the district needed $1 million to “get a dredging job going,” and that would only cover one small area.
“We have a $5 to 8 million backlog,” Sigman said.
All of the dredging work done at the reservoir is done by contract.
The needs at Pelahatchie Bay are strictly due to sediment buildup and not giant salvinia.
“Dredging is needed in many areas of the lake,” Sigman said. “Pelahatchie Bay gets more sediment than other areas of the lake due to the construction going on in the Mill Creek area.”
As for the funds allocated for Bob Anthony Parkway improvements, this money would be used to match the federal BUILD grant the district applied for to fund the project.
“We don’t know if we will get the grant,” Sigman said.
In fact, BUILD grant funds are expected to be awarded in October.
The project calls for the relocation of the Bob Anthony Parkway, which is a principal transportation link between urban areas of Madison and Rankin counties.
The Parkway is a four-lane roadway, with two lanes running along the dam and two for eastbound traffic at the toe of the dam.
According to the project proposal, the new road will improve an existing 3.1-mile segment of the Bob Anthony Parkway by moving it off the dam and allowing for better traffic flow.
Sigman said it would be four lanes of elevated roadway, much like I-55 below Manchac in Louisiana.
The project, which Sigman said will be a long-range project, is projected to cost around $133 million. However, as it will take several years to complete, Sigman said they will likely tackle the “long-range” project in phases.
The goal in relocating the roadway is to allow for 18-wheelers to commute through the area, which is currently prohibited on the current road, and help alleviate traffic on the spillway during peak hours.