Stone Co. asks for Port of Gulfport help to repair two roads

STONE COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Stone County officials said trucks hauling material to the Port of Gulfport are causing hundreds of thousands of dollars in road damage. County officials went before port commissioners asking them to pay for part of the repair bill because they don't have enough money to fix the roads themselves. However, for safety reasons they also can't afford to leave the roads in such bad shape.

Before the patch job on Sunflower Road, Stone County Engineer Jon Bond said a quarter mile stretch was mostly broken asphalt and large potholes.

"It was having base and edge failures, the road would literally sink in along the edge," said Bond. "Once water starts standing in the pot holes, heavy traffic just makes it worse and worse."

County officials said the heavy traffic comes from trucks hauling material from a sand pit to the Port of Gulfport. They said Wire Road is also taking a beating.

"We're having some 300 trucks a day come through here for the last six months for that restoration project," said Scot Gibson, Stone County Board Attorney. "We're asking the port to come together in cooperation to alleviate the cost to the county. The county can't absorb $375,000 to $400,000 worth of repairs in a road in a year."

Bond made a suggestion in a meeting before port commissioners.

"We don't want to hurt the pit owner and we don't want to hurt the trucking company," said Bond. "Yet we've got to spend money to fix these roads. If there was some way to do some kind of change order for that contractor so that those roads could be repaired as part of his operation, I think that would be a win win for everybody."

The interim port director said he doesn't understand how those trucks can be singled out.

"There are seven pits in the area and many trucks other than Fred Fayard are using those roads," said Interim Director Matthew Wypyski. "As I stand here now, I'm a little unsure how certain trucks using a certain pit supplying sand to the port project are being identified as causing supposed damage."

Wypyski said, "Joe Conn and I, the port engineer, drove the entire roadway, the haul road on Tuesday morning. We spent approximately half and hour in the area and to be honest the roads are in pretty decent shape."

Stone County officials said they're confident in what the cause is.

"We feel like based on the engineer reports that we do have that the majority of the damage at this time is coming from the port restoration project," Gibson said. "Those contractors that are taking this sand and this dirt down to the port. It's extraordinary wear on our roads that hadn't been taking place in the past."

Commissioners told Stone County officials they would consider the request.

Meanwhile, Stone County officials said Sunflower and Wire roads are state aid roads, meaning the money for their maintenance comes from MDOT. County officials said not foreseeing these roads would need repair, the allocation from the state has already been designated on other projects. Therefore,The county cannot afford to pay the entire $400,000 in repairs alone.

Stone County has already spent $25,000 on road repairs for Sunflower and Wire roads.

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