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Lighting project to get under way later this month

The long-awaited lighting at Interstate 55 Exit 40 is just amatter of days from starting, city officials said, and the exitshould be fully lighted by the end of the year.

Mayor Bob Massengill said he and Public Works Director SteveMoreton have met with officials from the Mississippi Department ofTransportation and Webster Construction, and have been told thatthe construction will begin on the project by March 12.

“The contractor and MDOT are beginning to stake out thisprocess, and soon we’ll be able to see exactly where the lightswill be,” Massengill said.

There will be four high-mast lights that will be 80-feet high,the mayor told the board, and another 13 that will be 40-feet high.Brookhaven and Lincoln County will be in charge of paying formaintenance, upkeep and power, Massengill said.

“This has been a joint effort, and the board has certainly beenbehind this,” he said. “This has been one of our priorities, andwe’re pleased that it will soon become a reality.”

Meanwhile there is also good news on city paving projects,Massengill said. While Brookhaven officials had planned for between$250,000 and $290,000 in funds to come to the city from economicrecovery funds for repaving Brookway Boulevard through MDOT, thecity recently received word that they will instead receive close to$354,000 in addition to normal surface transportation programfunds.

“We match the $354,000 with nothing, that’s totally part of theeconomic recovery funds,” Massengill said, adding that municipalfunds will have to pay for engineering to get the project ready tothe point of bidding.

Also, where the guidelines the city had been prepared to facewere a project that was 120 days to being “shovel ready,” MDOT hasnow told city officials the project needs to be ready in sixmonths.

Massengill said the city has asked MDOT if they can combine thestimulus funds with STP funds, which require an 80-20 match.

“We need to proceed with the project as quick as we can,”Massengill said. “That doesn’t mean we can pave within the nextmonth, but we can get the ball rolling.”

Ward Six Alderman David Phillips pointed out that the projectneeds to get under way because construction costs could soon berising with increased construction due to the economic stimuluspackage.

“I think when these projects start all over the country, priceswill go through the roof,” he said.

The board approved moving forward with the project plans as soonas possible.

Meanwhile, City Inspector Chip Genarro told the board the cityhas notified the owners of 22 lots that need to be cleaned up. Hesaid the first round of letters was sent Nov. 19, and the lastround of letters, which told landowners their 30 days to cleantheir lots was up, was sent on Jan. 26.

Genarro gave the board a list of the properties, saying thatsome of the landowners have begun the cleanup process, while somehave completed it and some haven’t even started.

Massengill told the board they have the rest of the week if theywant to speak to any of the landowners in their wards personally,but that the city will start lot cleanup next Monday.

Frank Moak also came to speak to the board on the Eighth AnnualMississippi Gran Prix bicycle race that takes place in Brookhaveneach spring. He said this year’s race will take place on April17-19, but that this year the downtown Friday night race will beheld on the west side of the railroad tracks instead of the eastside.

Moak said last year there were more than 80 competitorsregistered for the race, which is too many to safely run on thetrack that has been used in the past.

This year there will also be entertainment for the children andlive music for the adults on the evening of the downtown portion ofthe race, Moak said.