• 66°

Multi-modal facility, national forest road in transportation bill

Special federal appropriations totaling $4 million will helpmove a Brookhaven transportation facility and a Homochitto NationalForest road project forward, said City and County Engineer Carl RayFurr.

The recently-approved Omnibus Transportation bill allocates $2million for the city’s Multi-Modal Transportation Facility and $2million for an access through the national forest in Lincoln andFranklin counties. Furr said President Bush is expected to sign thelegislation this week.

The latest funding raises the overall federal allocation for thecity’s proposed transportation facility to $3.97 million. Thatincludes $970,000 in fiscal year 2001, $1 million last year andthis year’s $2 million.

“That has to be matched by 20 percent (locally),” Furr said.

The facility is expected to be located in the North RailroadAvenue area near the old smoke stack. Furr said the city is workingon getting property and buildings in the area appraised.

“The value the city has in the land and buildings can be countedtoward the 20 percent match,” Furr said.

Furr said his associate, Hugh Long, will update city officialson facility plans at Tuesday night’s board meeting. The update isexpected to include information on an environmental study that mustbe completed before the project can move forward.

“We’ve got to get the environmental cleared before we can accessthe money,” said Furr, who anticipated no problems with theenvironmental assessment.

Furr said there is a three-year time limit for using the federalfunds.

“It’ll be time to make a move toward putting it all together,”Furr said.

With federal funding in place, Furr said engineers will beginworking on a final plan for the transportation facility, which isexpected to be built in phases. The final plan will includeconstruction costs and long-term operational estimates.

Regarding other funding in the transportation bill, Furrexpected quick action on the access road through the nationalforest. The project will produce a paved road between Highway 550in Lincoln County and Highway 84 in Franklin County and will helptraffic flow to a recreational lake under development in FranklinCounty.

“We intend to build that project this year,” Furr said.

The forest road funds require no matching local money, Furrsaid. The federal money comes from a special accounts designatedfor national forest roads.

“We couldn’t use that money anywhere else in Lincoln County,”Furr said.

The $4 million for Lincoln County projects was part of almost$60 million in funding for transportation related activities in thestate, said U.S. Sen. Trent Lott in a statement.

“These projects are among some of the most ambitious andimportant transportation initiatives in our state’s history,” Lottsaid.

Third District U.S. Rep. Chip Pickering cited economicdevelopment benefits of the projects for southwest Mississippi.

“Enhancing our infrastructure will lead to new growth for thisregion. More growth in the region means more jobs forMississippians,” Pickering said.

Furr expressed appreciation to U.S. Sens. Lott and Thad Cochran,Pickering and former U.S. Rep. Ronnie Shows.

Furr also commended city and county officials for theirwillingness to travel to Washington and visit with federalofficials regarding the local projects. He said the $4 million wasa result of “being aggressive and knowing where to knock.”

“That’s a pretty good lick for a small county like LincolnCounty,” Furr said.