Tocowa Road project

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Two supervisors add road projects to state program

By Billy Davis

A planned overlay of Tocowa Road southwest of Batesville is estimated to cost $448,000, though state monies from the Miss. Department of Transportation are expected to pay for the project.

Panola County Supervisor Gary Thompson requested the road project May 9, which was approved unanimously by the Board of Supervisors.

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A road overlay spreads a new layer of asphalt on top of the road surface.

County engineer Larry Britt has reported that Tocowa Road is not a so-called “State Aid” road, which are routes that connect highways and enjoy state monies for upkeep. But state monies are still available for Tocowa through a state separate State Aid program, he told Thompson and other supervisors.

State Aid is an agency within MDOT that provides road improvement funds for county governments in the state.  

The Tocowa Road project will improve approximately three miles of the four-mile road, from Highway 35 to Tocowa Road, Thompson told The Panolian.  

Thompson, the board president, further said the road project must be “programmed” into State Aid by mid-June according to state regulations, since county elections fall this year.

“It’s got to be on the books by June 15,” he explained. “You can’t go in at the last minute and do road work. … Everything is treated differently in an election year.”  

Thompson is seeking re-election to a second term this summer, with five other candidates also seeking the District 3 seat.

If the overlay of Tocowa is expected to benefit Thompson, it’s still questionable if the project will be completed – or even under way — by August 2, the day for party primaries. The project could fall on next year’s calendar even if the project is bid this summer, Britt told Thompson.

A last-minute road project was also sought by Supervisor James Birge. District 1 roads Hunter Chapel, Fredonia and Bremit Brunt are now scheduled for resealing after Birge requested the work.

Resealing puts a thin coat of white rock, bonded with asphalt, on top of the road surface, explained Steven Gray, an engineer for Elliot and Britt.

Resealing is cheaper than an overlay and the three District 1 roads, about six miles total, are set to cost $275,000, Gray said.

At the May 9 board meeting, Birge had first suggested resealing five miles of Old Panola Road before that plan shifted to include three other roads.

Birge has also drawn an opponent in the August 2 primary.

The impact of the road improvements wasn’t lost on District 3 Supervisor Kelly Morris, who was present when the road projects were moved through.

“I didn’t hear any of my roads getting blacktopped,” Morris, who also faces several opponents, joked to his colleagues.

Gray did report promising news for Morris: Britt had applied for a federal Highway Administration grant for Sardis Lake Drive.

The grant pays for improvements on roadways that are located near public parks and other public properties.

“There’s no guarantee we’ll get the money but we can at least try,” Gray told Morris.