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New law targets trucks on South First Street

Contractors working on a South First Street storm drain projectare almost done, and city officials are now concentrating on tryingto keep heavy traffic off the newly-paved road.

Crews with Dickerson and Bowen have been working on the$700,000-plus project since January. Work has included installationof a large storm drain from Justice Street to Monticello Street,sidewalk work and new paving.

“They lack just a few touch ups being through with it,” saidL.D. Kier, senior inspector for Engineering Associates, which hasbeen overseeing the project.

Donnie Smith, project foreman, said employees were wrapping upsome curb and gutter work around the government complex. With cleanup and removal of materials, he estimated the work could becompleted by the end of the week.

Motorists have been traveling on the newly-paved South FirstStreet surface for about a week. Kier said the asphalt needs to”set up and cure” for about two weeks before it can be stripedagain.

“We should be through by the first of November,” he said.

The contract period for the project was 150 working days.

However, Kier said that must be adjusted for rain days andholidays. He mentioned two recent storms and other bad weather thathas come through the area during the construction period.

“That’s held us up,” Kier said. “We’ve lost a month to a monthand a half because of the weather.”

Another cause for delays were crews hitting water or sewer linesunder the street. At times, ruptured lines were a frequentoccurrence, especially while digging around the governmentcomplex.

“You run across so many unknowns in there,” Kier said. “You haveto take care of those as you go.”

Kier acknowledged the project’s impact on some South FirstStreet businesses, particularly Courthouse Stitch and Clean. Work,which included street closure, in the Justice Street area made itdifficult for customers to reach that business.

“It’s been rough on the cleaning business,” Kier said.

Kier was expecting the new street surface to improve traffic inthe area. He praised Dickerson and Bowen and said the company haddone a “mighty good job” on the project.

“It’ll be so much better than it was,” Kier said about thestreet.

With a new road surface in place, city officials are acting tokeep it in good shape by trying to reduce the amount of heavy trucktraffic on South First Street.

Aldermen have approved an ordinance to prohibit trucks weighing35,000 pounds or more on the street. With a required publicationperiod, the new law is in the process of being enacted and put intoeffect.

City officials are working on signs and other ways to notifytruck drivers that would be in violation. No citations have beenwritten, said Brookhaven Police Chief Arlustra “Pap” Henderson.

“I did tell the officers to start warning (the truck drivers),”Henderson said.

Henderson also discussed working with county officials on a wayto give drivers advance notice of the heavy truck prohibition and aplace to turn around before the South First Street city limits. Heindicated that trucks have limited options once they reach the citylimits.

“You don’t have any place to turn around down there,” Hendersonsaid.