Supervisors pursuing Industrial road upgrade

Published 5:00 am Thursday, September 10, 2009

Lincoln County supervisors were denied a federal stimulusappropriation they’d planned to use for repairs to Brookhaven’sIndustrial Park Road, so they’ve decided to stimulate the beat-uphighway themselves.

Supervisors unanimously approved a project Tuesday that wouldtransfer the county’s remaining federal Surface TransportationFunds over to a pending project to repair a long strip of the road,naming the important economic thoroughfare that enters the city’slargest industrial park priority No. 1. Zetus Road in westernLincoln County was bumped down to No. 2 on supervisors’ prioritylist to make room for the more pressing Industrial Park Road.

The road is a busy one, with a high mix of personal andindustrial truck traffic using it to connect to eastern LincolnCounty and the industrial park’s large employers.

“When logging is good, construction is good and Wal-Mart isgood, there’s about 550 trucks going through there a day,” saidDistrict Two Supervisor Bobby Watts. “It’s a very important stripof road, and we’re just hoping we can get it started soon.”

Supervisors plan to match $400,000 in STP funding with $160,000worth of their annual State Aid money to repair a 1.3-mile stretchof the road from North Jackson Street to its intersection with OldHighway 51. The stretch has been identified as themost-deteriorated section of the road, especially the short stretchfrom North Jackson Street to the Cliff Givens Bridge.

County leaders had hoped to cash in on the American Recovery andReinvestment Act of 2009 in its early days, but the Office of StateAid Road Construction did not receive as much stimulus funding asit needed and was unable to approve a project for Industrial ParkRoad. During their annual meeting with Mississippi’s congressionalleaders in May, supervisors had asked for $1.5 million to help withthe road, but those hopes, too, were dashed.

Original plans called for Industrial Park Road to be made newover its entire length, from Union Street Extension near Interstate55 to Monticello Street east of the city. Without federalassistance, supervisors are being forced to limit the scope of theproject to the road’s worst areas.

“Somehow or another the county always seems to have to take aback seat,” Watts said.

After the project is complete, the road’s worst areas shouldbecome its best.

County engineer Ryan Holmes, a civil engineer with DunganEngineering, PA, said plans already submitted to State Aid call forIndustrial Park Road to be “milled and filled” to a depth of 3inches. The ruts and depressions will be milled down and leveled,he said, and then the road will be resurfaced.

Holmes said plans also call for the road base to bestrengthened, as subgrade failure under the heavy truck traffic iswhat has caused the road to sink over time.

“We might use some 610 limestone with a geogrid, or some soilcement… something tough,” he said in engineer-speak, referring tousing either rock placed over a reinforcing tensile grid or acombination of soil and cement. “That road was built 10 or 12 yearsago, and there’s been higher than expected truck volume. Asphalt isflexible, so over time it’s going to rut. In all actuality, it’sgone beyond its useful life.”

Dungan Engineering, PA Principal Jeff Dungan said he hopes tohave the Industrial Park Road project ready to be bid out after thefirst of the year, pointing out that State Aid approval is usuallya three- to five-month process. He said the project to upgradeZetus Road has been stalled for two years already because ofproblems acquiring rights-of-way, and would be set aside likely fortwo years while supervisors’ STP money builds back up.

“Just watching (Industrial Park Road) in the last couple ofweeks, things are bad and getting worse,” Dungan said. “Somethinghas to be done.”

District Five Gary Walker said he is continuing to work onright-of-way acquisition for Zetus Road. He agreed that, untilZetus Road is ready, Industrial Park Road is the county’s toppriority.

“Until I can get all those right-of-ways settled and signed, Idon’t have a problem with that,” Walker said.

In the meantime, Brookhaven’s industrial community will keeptraversing the bumpy road and wait for supervisors’ blacktopblessing.

“Any time we can get road improvements, it’s a good thing,” saidDerek Crosby, general transportation manager for Wal-MartDistribution Center 6011. “I run 145 trucks out of there every day,and that doesn’t count McLane (Southern) and whatever othercarriers may be coming in and out. It’s important.”