Lincoln County citizens question supervisors over road maintenance

Published 4:33 pm Monday, August 7, 2023

BROOKHAVEN — Concerned citizens overflowed the Lincoln County Boardroom with questions about road repair and other maintenance work Monday morning. Public comments concerning roads and ditches in District 5 and District 2 were heard for an hour. 

Some of the roads claimed to be in disrepair are located near Zetus Road. Fern Lane was the most common complaint heard from the group of 16 people. Not all of the 16 citizens spoke on the issue but they did murmur in agreement as selected spokesmen aired out their grievances to the board. 

“It’s ridiculous we have to drive on these roads,” one spokesman said. “The potholes are bad and they leave the culverts humped up,” said another. District 5 Supervisor Doug Falvey was dealing with a personal issue and was not present at the meeting. 

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Lincoln County Board Attorney Greg Malta told the group to write down a list of roads and they would take a look at it. District 3 Supervisor Nolan Williamson told the group he could not speak for Falvey but knows roadwork projects have been moving slowly. 

“We don’t have any contractors. We have waited since November of last year on our contractor to work,” Williamson said. 

Dickerson and Bowen was awarded a contract for paving over a year ago but has made little progress, Lincoln County engineer Ryan Holmes said. He explained AAA Asphalt Paving, Southern Paving and Dickerson and Bowen are the only contractors they could get to work on projects. Brown said the pace of work has moved slow. 

“It is hard to get contractors. DB had a 365 contract and have been very slow. They are the only bidder,” Brown said. “They have been slow. They haven’t done anything in my district. We won’t get any done this year if they don’t start soon. DB was the only bid we got. It was open for weeks.” 

COVID money

Lincoln County Administrator Daniel Calcote said one of the reasons for the slow work pace is due to the money counties and cities got during COVID for infrastructure projects. Holmes said the influx of money and new projects has everything backed up. 

“They are all weeks and weeks behind,” Holmes said. “All of the counties and cities got money and it hit all at once. All of the contractors have more than they can do,” Holmes said. “You can’t work from January to March because it is cold and wet. They are starting to get caught up now. 

I’m working on estimates but we can’t get the contract done because there is a log jam.” 

Holmes reassured the concerned citizens the roads around Zetus are on a list to be repaved when they are able to open another contract. He said right now Falvey is digging out the bad parts of Fern Lane down to two feet deep so when the road is repaved the road is done right. Some of the roads in the county were built on top-soil, Holmes said. 

Money for county roads

One question the concerned citizens had was where the county got money for the roads and if there were any grants available they could apply for. One spokesman mentioned a $1.3 billion transportation funding plan announced by Governor Tate Reeves in February

In the plan, Lincoln County is getting about $30 million for infrastructure work. Williamson explained the project would only benefit a stretch of US84 from the US 51 to Kumars on US84. 

A person asked if the county got any of the Mississippi Lottery money. District 2 Supervisor Jerry McGehee said they don’t see any of the money from the lottery. Mississippi’s lottery fund pays into the Mississippi Highway system for highway and bridge repair in addition to an education enhancement fund according to the Mississippi Lottery website

Holmes said they are working to keep the roads they have in good shape but paving is not cheap. A mile of asphalt laid at an inch and a half thick costs $170,000. Some of the roads in the county need to be rebuilt because of their foundation being on topsoil or the heaviness of cars. 

“Over time vehicles got bigger and we started hauling more timber. These roads weren’t built to withstand the traffic. It costs a lot to pave,” Holmes said. “You could spend $1 million and not get much done.”

County responsibility 

Another question some of the citizens had for the board was whose responsibility is it for the maintenance of bushes and limbs along the roadside. Williamson said Lincoln County is responsible for anything from ditch to ditch along the roadside. Everything else is the private landowner’s responsibility. 

A man who lived on Jakes Trail said he is concerned about the bushes on Greenwich Lane. They need to be cut but have not. McGehee said the county has problems getting down the road because it is so narrow. Trees have grown up along the fence line and over the span of 20 years have gotten bigger and bigger. He promised to get work done on the road this week.  

“We shouldn’t have to come into a board meeting. Communicate. If you can’t do it, at least tell them what you can do. Do something,” one man said. “Eddie has been good because he has stepped in and worked. Communication and getting stuff done, that is what you are elected to do.”