Harrison County funds Debuys Road project

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Harrison County supervisors on Monday gave their financial support to a major improvement project on Debuys Road. Supervisors committed to spend nearly a half million dollars, the county's share of a project that also needs funding from the cities of Biloxi and Gulfport.

Engineer David Machado outlined the project plans to Harrison County supervisors. The proposed roadwork involves the northern portion of Debuys Road, stretching from Pass Road to the Jeff Davis campus of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.

"Widening the existing lanes to two 12 foot traffic lanes. Providing two four foot bicycle paths on both sides of those traffic lanes and also two five foot sidewalk/pedestrian pathways," Machado explained.

Federal Highway money would pay for 80 percent of the construction costs. Harrison County, along with the cities of Biloxi and Gulfport, would cover the remaining 20 percent, which amounts to $433,000 for each local government.

"If we said today we're going to commit the taxpayers of this county to that dollar for those road improvements, how long do we have to pay that?" asked Board President Windy Swetman.

Two years is the best estimate for spreading out the funding.  Getting the funding commitments is the first step in a rather drawn out process.

"Optimistically, if we can get the design and right of way acquisition completed within a year and then go to construction the following year, so you're looking at probably 2013 before construction would start," said Machado.

Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College is certainly a major factor in this improvement project.

The continued growth of the Jeff Davis campus means an increase in traffic on those roadways leading to the college, including Debuys.

"They're certainly a big driving force behind this project," Machado said.

Supervisors approved the funding request. Commitments are still needed from Biloxi and Gulfport.

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