GAUTIER, MS (WLOX) - Gautier residents should get ready for detour signs. This week, the city is slated to start paving work on more than two dozen neighborhood streets, some of which officials said haven't been resurfaced since the city incorporated 25 years ago. Drivers said many roads have gone neglected for far too long.
Hickory Hill Drive is covered in patches, dips and temporary fixes. Some residents said that's a problem throughout the northern part of the city.
"I live on John Daily Drive, and it hasn't had any work done to it in 22 years except for a little bit of patching,"said Rose Cardinali, Gautier resident.
John Brenier also lives in Gautier. He described some of the roads as damaging to vehicles.
"Not real good on your tires and your suspension on your vehicle. Pot holes and roads been needing to be fixed for a long time," Brenier said.
Gautier is using part of a $7 million bond to start repaving work on 30 neighborhood streets.
Mayor Tommy Fortenberry said, "Every one of our councilmen has worked very hard and very diligently in their ward and prioritized streets that need paving. We have streets in Gautier that haven't been paved since the city was formed, since it's inception. We're celebrating our 25th anniversary and this is part of it. "
It's not just the small streets benefiting from the bond money. To improve the heavily traveled Martin Bluff Road, Mayor Fortenberry said the city had to come up with $1. 7 million in matching funds.
"We're going to try to three or four lane it as far as we can from Gautier-Vancleave Road towards the Interstate," said Mayor Fortenberry. "We will hopefully be able to get by the school and maybe a little further. Then after that I would like to see the Martin Bluff Road repaved and striped from the Interstate all the way around to Ferry Point."
Of course, drivers can't expect a smoother ride will come without sacrifices.
"Progress is difficult," said the mayor. "But I believe these citizens in these areas that have these roads that are seriously dilapidated, they're going to be willing to drive a little slower, wait a little longer, go a different route in order to get these streets paved. They're waiting for this and it's something that we desperately need."
Mayor Fortenberry said the city money combined with state and federal grants will allow for $6 million in improvements to Martin Bluff Road. He said he expects work being on that project very soon.
That bond is also helping Gautier move it's police officers from cramped quarters into a much larger work space. Contractors have until Wednesday to submit bids to renovate the new Gautier police department and city court.
Mayor Fortenberry said the city paid $670,000 for the old Rex building on Highway 90 across from city hall.
"We're in the same building that we've been in for 20 years and we've actually outgrown the building," he said. "With the police department, including two double trailers, we have about 7,000 square feet. They're actually running into each other. With this building here, which is 12,000 square feet, not only will it accommodate what we have now, but it will give us some growing room for the future."
Moving city court across the street will increase seating capacity from 78 to 112.