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More work set to reroute buses

Lincoln County school students and their parents could be in forsome inconveniences later this year as supervisors andtransportation officials aim to keep heavy school buses off thecounty’s low-limit bridges.

Following an earlier meeting with the county school board,supervisors Monday met briefly with Donald Case, county schoolstransportation director. Case said supervisors do not want anyschool buses crossing bridges with weight limits of less than13,000; therefore, he plans to conduct a bus route review.

“We’re going to look at rerouting all our buses,” Case said.

Case said the district needs to know how much the reroutes willcost in terms of time, distance and fuel costs. He said he would bemeeting with bus drivers shortly to seek that information.

“We’re going to go from there,” Case said. “It’ll probably takea couple of weeks to do it.”

District 3 Supervisor Nolan Earl Williamson said the county has86 bridges eligible for replacement, with many of those withunder-13,000 pound weight limit.

Bridges on the under-13,000 pound list in Lincoln Countyare:

* London Road

* Dalton Road

* West Lincoln Road (2)

* Jordan Trail

* Butler Trail

* Upton Trail

* Topisaw Drive (2)

* McCullough Road

* Junction Lane

* Bahalia Road

* Pipeline Road

* Terry Lane

* Apple Trail

* Fox Road

With limited funds for work, Williamson said the board wanted toget a route plan from the school district in order to know whichbridges to focus on for repairs. He indicated rerouted buses couldpresent some difficulties for some parents and students.

“It’s going to be inconvenient,” Williamson said. “Everybody’ssorry, but that’s just the way it is.”

School buses, which can carry up to 60 students, weigh onaverage between 25,500 and 27,500 pounds when empty. Bridges needto have at least 13,000 limits to support them.

Case also predicted some headaches involved with the reroutingplans. Citing Topisaw Road, which includes parts of four busroutes, he said the roads are not dirt roads with one or twohouses.

Routes will also be impacted in the future with more studentscoming into the district and those in kindergarten startingelementary school.

“It’ll be every year …,” Case said. “That’ll change someroutes automatically.”

Also Monday, supervisors used a visit from Dist. 39 Sen. CindyHyde-Smith to lobby for help on repairing some of the county’sdeficient bridges. They said they needed more money to be put inthe bridge repair programs.

“We’re battling it, but it’s tough fight,” Hyde-Smith said inresponse.

Hyde-Smith offered to set up a meeting for supervisors withNatchez Sen. Bob Dearing, chairman of the Senate TransportationCommittee. The senator said Dearing is aware of possibilities thatcould help the county’s situation.

County Engineer Carl Ray Furr cited reduced appropriations tothe Local System Bridge Program as one problem facing thecounty.

Lincoln County has used LSBP funds to address a number ofproblem bridges, but other counties have not. Furr suggested thatplayed a part in the legislature reducing the funding level from$10 million last year to $8 million this year.

“They were going to cut somewhere, and this was the place to doit,” Furr said.

Furr suggested a three-year limit for counties to use their LSBPfunds. Funds not used should be reallocated to counties that needand use the money.

As evidenced by other counties, Furr said a bridge collapse witha school bus can happen. He said an incident like that would makenational news.

“It’s subject to happen anywhere,” Williamson said.

Williamson said Lincoln County has more bridges per mile thanany other county in the state.

“We’ve simply got a lot of bridges,” Williamson said.

After earlier hearing from citizens about some garbage feeissues, supervisors also asked Hyde-Smith for help on efforts tocollect the fees.

“Y’all put it on us to collect, but you gave us no teeth tocollect it,” District 1 Supervisor Cliff Givens told thesenator.

Possible actions to enforce fee collection include not selling acar tag, justice court action and a lien on property, although thecounty cannot do anything once its has a lien. County officialssupported making the garbage fee a line item on the tax notice orgiving the county more power to enforce a property lien.

In other action Monday, supervisors reluctantly voted to accepta $2,001 bid for the sale of over 40 guns seized during activitiesby the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department. The bid from Highway 51Pawn and Gun was the highest of three received.

“They are worth a lot more than that,” said Sheriff LynnBoyte.

Officials said the guns could be sold individually, butauthorities would have to go through background checks on eachbuyer. Money from the gun sale will go to a seizure fund to helpthe sheriff’s department address equipment and other needs.

Taking a cue from the city, County Administrator Tillmon Bishopsuggested supervisors go to Washington, D.C. with Furr to lobbycongressional officials for money to pursue some county projects.City efforts have resulted in several million dollars earmarked forcity projects.

Money for roads and bridges was supervisors’ first thought, butFurr said that would be unlikely. He suggested money could beavailable for new industrial park space or industrial parkaccess.

“A new industrial park needs to start going now,” Furr said.”and it needs to be in the county.”

Furr also mentioned long-term airport needs and the possibilityof a regional facility, with a timeframe of within the next 10years. Supervisors targeted the summer as a time for a trip to theWashington.