OK allows lighting planning to commence

Published 6:00 am Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Longtime plans to install lighting at one of the Brookhaveninterchanges on Interstate 55 moved closer to reality Monday with aLincoln County Board of Supervisors’ agreement to assist withmaintenance aspects of the project.

The Mississippi Department of Transportation has set asideapproximately $350,000 for the project that will involve theinstallation of high mast lights at Exit 40, the interstate offramp that leads to Brookway Boulevard. The city and county will notbe charged for the installation of the lights, but will be requiredto meet the price of the lights’ maintenance and upkeep and thereplacement of any lights that may be damaged.

The city has already agreed to participate in the project andMayor Bob Massengill sought supervisors’ cooperation duringMonday’s board meeting.

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With the board of supervisors’ approval, Massengill dispatched aletter of application, signed by the county and himself, to theMDOT District Seven office in McComb. He said planning is promisedto begin immediately.

“I really believe that interchange will be lighted during 2008,”Massengill said Monday afternoon. “This is something that willshowcase the city interchange. I hope to one day have lights at allthree of our interchanges, but we had to start somewhere.”

Along with the four high mast lights planned for installation,Exit 40 may also receive a number of smaller lights, although thenumber and placement of which is unclear. The costs for the lights’maintenance, which will be split evenly between the city and thecounty, was estimated at between $800 to $1,400 per month,Massengill said during Monday’s board meeting.

Citing a conversation with Kevin Bonds, the manager ofengineering at the Southwest Mississippi Electric PowerAssociation, the mayor said Alcorn State University pays between$1,200 and $1,500 per month to operate four high mast lights and 20smaller lights at its Lorman campus. The number discussed byMassengill and the board of supervisors for smaller lights was onlyfive, a combination that should produce a significantly lower powerbill.

Massengill mentioned that Exit 40 was chosen because BrookwayBlvd. is the largest street in the city. He said that MDOT hadmentioned lighting the northernmost interchange because it leads tothe industrial park, but no commitment has been made.

The mayor stressed the fact that the commitments that have beenmade are joint decisions between the city and county.

“From day one, when we first tried to acquire funds, this hasbeen a joint project,” he said. “The county board wants theselights as much as the city does.”

The county does share the city’s hunger for lighting at theinterchange, and the project is officially under way. However,several logistical discrepancies must be worked out beforeconstruction can begin.

“It’s a short contract,” board attorney Bob Allen said regardingthe MDOT contract. “It doesn’t cover a lot of things that need tobe covered.”

Among the issues mentioned by Allen were constructionsupervision, a topic that was also raised by supervisors vicepresident Rev. Jerry Wilson; handling of bill payments under thecity-county agreement; maintenance definitions and responsibilitiesregarding events should the contract ever be canceled.

With the project planning in its preliminary phases, officialswere optimistic logistical details could be ironed out beforeconstruction begins. MDOT engineers are expected to presentconstruction plans to the city and county before any work begins atthe interchange.