Boulevard paving given top priority by aldermen

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Brookhaven Aldermen agreed Tuesday that Brookway Boulevardpaving will be the top priority should the city receive any fundsthrough the Mississippi Department of Transportation from a federalstimulus package currently being debated in Washington.

During a called meeting Tuesday, Mayor Bob Massengill told boardmembers that MDOT held an advisory meeting Monday with citiesinterested in obtaining money from the federal stimulus package.Cities can receive stimulus money through other sources, officialssaid, but Monday’s meeting specifically addressed funding to befunneled through MDOT.

Based on information from that meeting, Brookhaven could beeligible for $250,000- $290,000 in stimulus money for pavingprojects, the mayor said. He said the stipulation is that theprojects must be ready to begin within 75 days or the funds will goback to MDOT for other uses.

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Meanwhile, the amount is much less than aldermen had hoped forwhen discussing a stimulus wish list at last week’s meeting.

“We had $200,000 per ward in our wish list,” Massengillsaid.

Aldermen agreed that the heavy traffic on Brookway Boulevardmakes it a priority when talk of a paving project comes up.Massengill said Public Works Director Steve Moreton did a costestimate to pave and stripe the boulevard from Hampton Avenue tothe intersection with Highway 51 and found that it would be withinthe range of $800,000.

The project is feasible, however, based on other fundingsources. Massengill said the city could receive $525,000 in SurfaceTransportation Program funds based on the 2000 census, at whichpoint the city would put in a 20 percent match.

“Locally we’ll be matching somewhere in the range of $130,000for up to a $800,000 project,” Massengill said, adding that thereis no match required on the stimulus funds.

Massengill said the decision at the meeting allows cityofficials to move forward with beginning steps. However, before theproject actually begins, there are several steps that have to betaken.

First, MDOT has to approve the project, then the city will haveto receive the projected amount of STP funds. Bids on the projectwill have to be close to or less than what the city isbudgeting.

Aldermen maintained that Brookway Boulevard, which accommodatesan estimated 27,000 cars per day, was a pressing need.

“If we divide up what we’ve got and piecemeal it all over, itwould cost us more in the end,” said Ward Four Alderwoman ShirleyEstes. “We’ve recognized that Brookway Boulevard is important tothe whole community, and it needs fixing.”

Ward Five Alderman D.W. Maxwell agreed, saying even though theproject falls within his ward, it is beneficial to everyone whocomes through Brookhaven.

“This serves all the city of Brookhaven, not just Ward Five,” hesaid. “We all use this, not just the people of Ward Five. Thisbenefits everyone in the county.”