Road Project

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 23, 2010

‘Biggie’ road project hits state roadblock

By John Howell Sr.

A joint city/county plan for improvements to Keating Road fell apart after a rules change prohibited the commingling of State Aid money with other city and county funds, city engineer Blake Mendrop told Batesville officials Tuesday.

Keating Road, connecting Highway 6 and Brewer Road, is a narrow, rutted, heavily-traveled route that accesses Tiger Drive, Trianon Street and Shamrock Drive.

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“This is the biggie that’s in front of us right now,” said Ward 1 Alderman Bill Dugger, whose question prompted the update from the engineer at the April 20 meeting.

Mendrop said that the city originally planned to use approximately $300,000 in Mississippi Department of Transportation-provided funds that were available through a program that required a 20 percent match.

“The county was going to use State Aid funds for their match,” the engineer said. “With all these new regulations in the last two years in this program, they said you can’t mix State Aid money with this money.”

“We had it done and they changed the rules,” Mayor Jerry Autrey said.

Mendrop said that he suggested that the city and county adopt another plan to rehabilitate and improve Keating Road that would comply with current rules involving the use of State Aid funds.

“We can’t sit back and at least not be thinking to try to come up with some plan if it’s doing a thousand feet at a time or whatever…” Dugger said.

Mendrop said that he would contact the county’s engineer, the county road manager, county supervisors and Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) engineers to develop a new plan.

“Y’all have made a big dent in (the repaving of) roads over the last few years,” Mendrop said. “Not many towns have done that.”

“We’ve paved over a million dollars in streets” over a five-year period, the mayor said.

Another State Aid road in city limits that needs overlay is Eureka Extended, Autrey said.

Mendrop said that he would provide a report at the next meeting on replacement and upgrade of traffic signals at the Highway 6/278  intersections with Bates and Eureka Streets. The MDOT-funded $321,000 project would replace existing wire-hung lights with lights mounted on poles. MDOT funds for signal replacement do not require a 20 percent match from local funds, the engineer said.

Funding for similar replacements of Highway 6/278 traffic signals at Power Drive, Keating Road and Highway 51 is already in place, Mendrop said in a phone interview following the meeting.

The traffic signal replacements on Highway 6/278 will be coordinated with an asphalt overlay project currently underway. The overlay will extend from Interstate 55 to the railway overpass on Highway 6/278 West. After repaving has been completed, loop sensors that control the timing of the traffic signals will be replaced, Mendrop said.

Work on Highway 6/278 West from the railway overpass to the Batesville city limits is currently underway.