Millions marked for infrastructure work

By ANTHONY WARREN,

Northsiders will soon see their one-percent tax dollars pay off in a big way, with the one-percent oversight commission approving spending nearly $7 million for projects in Northeast Jackson, Fondren and Belhaven.

At its meeting last week, the commission approved awarding the city $1.5 million to make repairs to the West Bank Interceptor, a move that will shore up a sewage problem at the Country Club of Jackson, as well as $1.5 million for the second phase of the Eastover water main replacement project, and $1.1 million to cover cost overruns on the East Northside Drive resurfacing project.

Commissioners also approved awarding the city $650,000 to cover costs of two major water main breaks in Belhaven late last year and nearly $2 million to cover engineering costs for federally funded road projects across the city.

Public Works Director Robert Miller said the Eastover Drive project will include replacing a six-inch water main from Ridgewood Road to the south end of Lake Circle Drive and repaving the roadway.

He told the commission the line had deteriorated significantly and needed to be replaced as a result.

“You’ve seen me quoted in the paper that some of the water mains are like peanut brittle, as if they’re made out of grandma’s peanut brittle,” he said. “This is one of the lines I’m talking about.”

Construction will cost an estimated $1.5 million and will be paid for entirely with one-percent revenues. Design work on the project was previously completed by Southern Engineering.

No date was given for when work would begin.

The first phase of the project ran along the south side of Eastover, basically from the I-55 North frontage road to Ridgewood Road.

That work was completed in late 2016.

Both phases were included in the commission’s first-year master plan, which included $13.7 million in projects. However, no funding had been set aside for the second phase’s construction.

 

While residents in Eastover will soon have better water service and a better street, members of the Country Club of Jackson will soon have a much more pleasant experience on the golf course.

The commission approved $1.5 million for several projects along the West Bank Interceptor, a major sewer line that runs along the Pearl River from County Line Road to the Savanna Street Wastewater Treatment Plant in south Jackson.

Because of problems with the line, sewage has backed up numerous times at the golf course’s 17th hole.

Reasons for that include the fact that the line has been filled with sediment from the O.B. Curtis Water Treatment Plant. In recent years, the city has been dumping sediments collected at the water treatment center into the line, with hopes that the sediments would be carried to the wastewater treatment facility and eventually back into the Pearl River.

Unfortunately, the sediments had built up, decreasing the line’s capacity, Miller explained.

The $1.5 million will be used to scrape out and dispose of those sediments, as well as “TV” the line to determine if there are any breaks that need to be repaired. In all, about 3.5 miles of the interceptor would be impacted by the work.

“This is helpful in bringing quality of life, but also an economic driver. This is very much connected to the Sanderson Farms Championship,” Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba said.

Another $1.1 million will be going toward the East Northside repaving project, which promises to improve the commutes of about 20,000 motorists each day.

Work includes milling and overlaying the thoroughfare from the I-55 North frontage road to North State Street and bringing sidewalks into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The project is being funded in part by a $1.4 million federal grant, as well as matching funds.

Public works bid the project out last year. However, bids came in too high over budget and the project had to be re-bid. The additional $1.1 million will give the city a cushion to cover any cost overruns that could occur during the next bidding cycle.

“We anticipate that if we move forward with the allocation we can still have the project done this summer,” Lumumba said.

Weather pending, construction would take between 120 and 180 days.

East Northside is traveled by about 20,000 vehicles each day, according to Mississippi Department of Transportation traffic count maps.

Another $2 million will help cover design costs to repave portions of Meadowbrook Road and North State Street.

The city recently received federal grants to repave the roadways. The Meadowbrook project will run from I-55 North to West Street/Northbrook Drive and the North State work will run from Sheppard Drive to Briarwood Drive.

Because federal funds are being used on the work, the city is required to complete designs for the projects. Any funds left from the $2 million will go toward actual construction.

Finally, oversight members awarded the city a $650,000 loan to cover construction costs for two Belhaven water main breaks late in 2018.

Last year, construction crews damaged a 36-inch main at the intersection of Laurel and Myrtle street. The city had to replace that main, as well as a 20-inch water valve on Fortification, under its emergency declaration.

Hemphill Construction was brought on to do the work.

The city will use the loan to pay Hemphill, and then will reimburse the commission after it collects on damages.

A forensic engineer determined that a private contractor damaged the pipes. Jackson is seeking damages from that firm.

“I’m cautiously optimistic that we’ll be able to reach some sort of settlement for part or all the amount,” Miller said.

 

In other news, Lumumba announced that he would like to use one-percent funds as leverage to issue $30 million in bonds for road repaving.

“It would all be dedicated to paving, so we could pave roads at a more significant pace,” he said.

Under his plan, a portion of incoming one-percent revenues would go toward repaying the debt, while the rest would be used for other projects and emergencies.

No action was taken on the mayor’s announcement. He would like to examine the matter more in depth in the coming weeks.

 

 

 

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