MDOT: No money for interstate lighting

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Southern District Transportation Commissioner Wayne Brown hasinformed Brookhaven officials that interstate interchange lightsare not in the state’s plans for the foreseeable future.

“I’m not pleased with the answer we’ve been given,” said MayorBob Massengill Tuesday while informing the board of aldermen of thestate’s position.

Massengill read excerpts from Brown’s letter regarding theMississippi Department of Transportation’s activities.

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In the letter, Brown said “raids” of MDOT funds by statelawmakers facing difficult budget times had pushed many projects tothe back burner. Brown said the lighting for three Brookhaveninterchanges along I-55 is not in MDOT’s three-year plan and he didnot see it happening in the near future.

“I hate the fact that MDOT will not be able to fund this projectunder its current three-year plan, but I hope in the future – withthe cooperation of the legislature – that MDOT funding would beback at a level where these much-needed projects can be supported,”Brown said in the letter.

Brown said similar lighting projects had been funded,implemented and maintained by municipalities under permit fromMDOT. He suggested Brookhaven could use yearly federaltransportation funds to do the work.

Massengill said those federal funds amount to about $105,000 ayear, which would be insufficient to do the project. The mayor saidhe has been talking with McComb officials, who accomplished alighting project several years ago, about grant possibilities for aBrookhaven project.

“We don’t want to wait four, five or six years. We’re going totry to find a way to fund the interstate lighting,” Massengillsaid.

In other city project activity, Massengill said architectMichael Barranco is continuing to work on a drawing of a proposedmulti-modal transportation facility. City officials are consideringa 2,200-square-foot facility that would use approximately $1million in federal funds.

Also, Massengill said he had contacted Amtrak regardingrelocating the train boarding area 1,600 feet north to thetransportation facility site. The mayor said train officials hadacknowledged his letter but had not made a decision, but did notforesee any problems.

Aldermen are expected to vote to readvertise a downtown streetpaving project at the March 1 meeting.

Massengill said engineer Jeff Green will be at the meeting todiscuss project specifics and how it can be done with availablefunds. The city is having to readvertise the project because anearlier bid was higher than expected and city funds wereinsufficient.