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Officials pursue Brookway paving upgrades

Brookway Boulevard is arguably the most traveled thoroughfare inBrookhaven, and municipal leaders have been trying to find a way toget it repaved without the giant cost of the project burning adeep, dark hole in the city’s checkbook.

And every day, the prospect of a newly paved boulevard for theestimated 27,000 cars that travel it per day moves a little closerto reality.

City Public Works Director Steve Moreton said engineers areputting together plans to send to the Mississippi Department ofTransportation, which is the first step in getting the projectunder way.

“It’s horrible,” Moreton said of Brookway’s condition. “It’s themost-used road we have. We’ve re-striped it, but it’s sandy, andthe sand is so abrasive it just sands the paint away.”

Moreton said once MDOT has approved the plans to pave and stripethe boulevard from Hampton Avenue to the intersection with Highway51, the city will advertise for bids, and the process willbegin.

“We don’t have exact dates yet, but we hope this will be bid outin the early fall,” he said.

The close to $800,000 undertaking was one that city officialshave pondered for quite some time. But when the federal governmentmade it clear that stimulus money would be available for localprojects, the Brookhaven Board of Aldermen set the repaving projectas top priority should the money come in.

The new pavement is not just important because of the motoristswho will be driving on it, nor because of the striping, but trafficsignals are also an issue. Moreton said some of the stop lights aresimply operating on a timed cycle instead of loops that can tellthem when to change based on traffic flow.

“If those loops are broken, it throws that box into automaticmode so it just cycles,” Moreton said. “You can’t put those loopsin old asphalt.”

He said plans will need to involve milling, paving and stripingthe

major thoroughfare, and hopefully timed traffic signals can befixed with the almost $354,000 from the economic recovery fundsissued to the city for MDOT projects.

The project is feasible, however, based on other fundingsources. That money will be combined for the project with SurfaceTransportation Funds the city gets based on the population as ofthe last Census.

Mayor Bob Massengill said recently that the city could receive$525,000 in Surface Transportation Program funds based on the 2000census, at which point the city would put in a 20 percentmatch.

City officials estimated that there could be roughly a $130,000match on the STP funds.

Meanwhile, Moreton said, there is still the chance that therecould be some stimulus money left over if other cities missdeadlines or decide not to complete projects designated for thefunds. In that case, if there were more money available, new stoplights are on the wish list.

“We’d like to put up mast arms and LED lights at some of ourintersections,” he said. “Those are nice to have, and they looknice, but they’re expensive.”

Moreton said if the funds became available to install thoselights, there would be one on Brookway and Brookhaven Street, oneat the Brookway and Wal-Mart exit across from Taco Bell, and one atBrookway and Magee Street.

“But that’s not set in stone. That’s just on the wish list,” hesaid.

City officials have said that once the construction starts,which is still months in the making, the bulk of the work will bedone at night in order to keep it from interfering withhigh-traffic times.