Supervisor questions Jackson County road project

By Sylvia Hall - bio | email

JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Things haven't been pretty on Soloman Road for Michael Pleasant and his neighbors the past few months.  Orange barrels and a large "Road Closed" sign block the path to a muddy hole, where a bridge to Highway 609, or Washington Avenue, once stood.

"It's been a big inconvenience for us having to go all the way around and get out to Washington to do whatever we need to do on a daily basis," Pleasant said.

The bridge collapsed in late March when heavy rain flooded the area.  Since then, Pleasant said frustration has grown for him and his neighbors.  He said it's not just an inconvenience, it's a safety concern.

"If there's a problem in here, someone needs medical attention, they have to take a long route to get in," Pleasant said.  "When you're dealing with health, you know, minutes matter."

The area's county supervisor, Tommy Brodnax, is among the people disappointed the bridge is still out.

"I brought it up in meeting after meeting and it fell on deaf ears," Brodnax said.  "It should have taken about a maximum of three weeks.  But we've had excuse after excuse.  And now it's led up to, it will soon be five months.  It's four and a half months now.

Brodnax said he's especially concerned for traffic flow starting this week.

"We're fixing to open school this week," Brodnax said.  "The busses will have to detour around, and there's absolutely no excuse for it."

Jackson County Board of Supervisors President Manley Barton told WLOX News there's a reason for the holdup.  They have been waiting on two different things, including an environmental permit and funding approval from FEMA. He said the most binding of those two is the environmental permit, because building without it would be illegal.

Barton also said both the environmental permit and the FEMA funding approval have recently been granted.  He estimates work will begin within the next week.

Still, Brodnax and Pleasant believe five months is too long to wait.

"As far as a permitting issue, under an emergency like this, it should have been no problem at all to get a permit for this," Brodnax said.  "Our board of supervisors has had interest in other projects and had our bridge crew assigned to other projects, and totally neglected this need right here. And that's the reason we haven't had this bridge replaced."

Pleasant didn't say he necessarily believes the county has been negligent, but he said the hold-up has been disappointing.

"I don't understand what took so long," Pleasant said.

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