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Multi-Modal plans may be back on track

Efforts toward the construction of the long-awaited Multi-ModalFacility appear to be picking up steam, according to a discussionat Tuesday’s city board meeting.

Mayor Bob Massengill said he and City Clerk Mike Jinks are setto meet with Mississippi Department of Transportation PublicTransit Division Director Charles Carr on Friday about movingforward with the bidding process.

The project has been held up for almost nine years as the cityhas had to jump through several hoops to bring it to fruition.

“The last holdup was determining whether environmental work wedid several years ago could still be used,” he said. “But it can,and we’ve been told we can proceed, and now we’re ready toadvertise for this work.”

Massengill said that if the bids come in too high it could causefurther delay. But that once the bids are opened in late May, theproject will finally off and running.

Alderman at large Les Bumgarner said he could remember workingfor the project years ago, and thinking it would be under wayshortly.

“Seven years ago (Ward One Alderman) Dorsey (Cameron) and I andMayor (Bill) Godbold were sitting in (then-U.S. Sen.) Trent Lott’soffice, and he said, ‘I want to see some dirt moved,'” he said. “Itwas like he was fussing at our engineer for taking too long. Nowseven years later, it’s happening.”

In other construction-related activity, MDOT has also given thecity the go-ahead to begin work on the repaving of BrookwayBoulevard, Massengill said.

He said the major thoroughfare will be milled, paved and stripedand timed traffic signals can be fixed with the almost $354,000from the economic recovery funds issued to the city for MDOTprojects. The mayor said the traffic signals’ timing is now offfrom when they were installed several years ago.

While there is no match required of the city from the stimulusmoney, there is a match requirement in the Surface TransportationFunds the city gets based on the population as of the lastCensus.

It has averaged between $125,000- $145,000 per year, and thecity has set it aside for major paving projects. Massengill said$90,000 of that must be spent before September or it will expiresince it has been carried over several years.

The bulk of the work will be done at night, Massengill said, inorder to keep it from interfering with high-traffic times.

The board also discussed ongoing efforts to renovate the chamberof commerce building and the adjoining old fire station. Massengillsaid the grant the chamber received in 2002 for the work was notenough to cover bids on the project in the first round, in largepart because the building has to be made compliant through theAmericans with Disabilities Act.

“When we bid it out, the bids all came back too high,”Massengill said. “When we had it bid the second time, the samething happened.”

Massengill said city officials will meet with the low bidder onWednesday to discuss options to continue forward with the project,yet keep it close to the budget.

Also Tuesday, aldermen approved the hiring of a part-timemanager for the Brookhaven airport.

Public Works Director Steve Moreton presented Dr. Alan Morrow,who is also a pilot, before the board, saying Morrow would beworking three to fours hours a day for $10 an hour.

“This gentleman is retired and has a Ph.D., and he is anextremely gifted person. This will save us a tremendous amount ofmoney to have him part time if it works,” Massengill said.

The mayor added that he would be looking over several sets ofairport rules from the Brookhaven airport and several others andcome up with a recommendation on new airport rules.

In other business, the board voted to move the May 5 boardmeeting from its regular starting time of 6:30 p.m. to a 5:30 p.m.starting time. Municipal elections take place on that day.