Progress seen in road dispute

Published 8:00 pm Thursday, July 26, 2012

     An ongoing road dispute between Lincoln County and the Mississippi Department of Transportation showed some progress at a meeting Wednesday, but not all parties were pleased.

     The dispute involves Old Highway 84 in Supervisor Eddie Brown’s District Three. The 2.1-mile stretch of road has been in limbo since 2003 when the state first tried to give the road over to the county.

     At the meeting Wednesday, MDOT District Engineer Albert White said state law allows them to give any road under three miles long to a county once the state bypasses it with another road.

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     Brown contended he already has 232 miles of roads in his district and he does not need another 2.1. He also said the road has a number of problems that need to be addressed.

     “We’re looking at a slide and one of the box culverts,” he said. “When we get a heavy rain, it’s probably going to break off. Another box culvert has problems and the road is cracked to pieces and will need a seal in the next few years.”

     At the meeting, White said he’d review the condition and problems with the road by the end of the week and then contact Brown and District One Supervisor and Board President Nolan Williamson.

     “I’ll help with the slide and box culverts, but not anything else,” said White. “We don’t have to do anything according to state law.”

     Brown said the road has many other problems that he does not have the money or manpower to tackle and that MDOT has more resources to handle such problems.

     “It’ll cost about $60,000 to reseal the 2.1 miles and a total cost of a minimum of $100,000 to reseal, fix slides, remove dead trees and cut the grass,” said Brown.

     White stressed that MDOT has had a good relationship with Lincoln County and he wanted to keep it that way.

     “I want to do this as a partnership because I’d like to work with the county,” he said.

     But White did ask what exactly the county was planning to do.

     “Where is the county at in this?” he said. “What are they committing to do here?”

     Brown did not respond to those questions.

     Lincoln County Chancery Clerk Tillmon Bishop, who acted as a mediator during the meeting, said the transaction should be done the right way.

     “If taking on this road is non-rejectable, then the right thing to do is to transfer it over in good condition,” he said.

     Bishop went on to say he hated to see a new supervisor in his first year in office have to take on such a problem as Brown has only been in office since January and inherited this problem.

     After the meeting, Brown said the he left a lot to be desired.

     “Its not what I wanted to hear,” he said. “Its just another burden on the taxpayer of Lincoln County. The cost to get this road back up to par would be extreme.”

     Brown seemed resigned that the county has no legal options but to take the road, but remained extremely reluctant about doing so.

     “I am disappointed with the state,” said Brown. “It seems like they’re trying to get rid of a road that has so many problems because they just don’t want it anymore.”

     Representatives from the state and county plan to talk again next week about the next step for Old Highway 84.