OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - Ocean Springs plans to upgrade one of the busiest roads in the city.
Mayor Connie Moran is asking the Jackson County Board of Supervisors to help pay for a $1.3 million improvement project on East Government Street. The mayor wants to take advantage of a matching grant program that would cover 80 percent of the cost.
Thousands of cars travel East Government Street every day. And the roadway is beginning to show its age. Just east of Ocean Springs Road, there are increasing cracks along the shoulders.
"It's a very heavily traveled road. And it is a federally designated road, which makes it eligible for this matching grant," Mayor Moran told WLOX News. "So, if we get approval from the Board of Supervisors, then we will partner with them and really have a fine project."
The road project will include more than fresh paving. New sidewalks are a part of the plans, along with a pedestrian foot bridge over the bayou.
"We're looking at improving some of the sidewalks, covering some of the ditches, widening Government slightly with a better shoulder to shore it up. Paving where it needs to be. And also erecting another wooden pier over Davis Bayou, similar to the one over Heron Bayou. Our ultimate goal is to bring sidewalks all the way to the middle school."
Even though this single project will require all of the repaving money the county has allocated for District 5, the mayor said it still makes good sense for several reasons.
First, the project qualifies for an 80/20 matching money from the state under the Transportation Improvement Program.
Secondly, the mayor believes it makes sense to do the project all at once rather than piece mealing it over several years.
And finally, since this road is so heavily traveled, more people will benefit from the project.
"Anytime you can take you money and quadruple it to have an even greater project to service even more people, and of all ages with kids walking to school, which we're trying to encourage, then it's a no-brainer," said Mayor Moran.
If county supervisors agree to the funding request, the mayor expects the project could go to bid this fall, with construction work beginning next spring.
Jackson County supervisors heard the mayor's request at Monday's meeting, but did not vote on the request.
The county's share would be about $225,000; the City of Ocean Springs would also contribute around $200,000.