GAUTIER, MS (WLOX) - Gautier leaders are upset that five years after securing a bond to widen a major thoroughfare, construction has yet to start on Martin Bluff Road. City officials talked about the reasons for the delays and why residents can expect to wait a few more years before the work is complete.
Terri-Lynn Stringer works at a restaurant on Martin Bluff Road, a street where she says there's an accident about every other week.
"The road is very narrow around here. Traffic gets really bad just because it is narrow and there are so many outlets," said Stringer. "It would be really great if the road was a little wider."
Gautier has $7 million in city funds and grants to widen Martin Bluff into three lanes with a 12-foot wide walking and biking path along side. Mayor Gordon Gollott said the project would make the street safer and encourage economic development.
However, not a shovel has been turned. The mayor said the engineering firm the city hired has repeatedly submitted reports to MDOT with incorrect information about the amount of property that must be acquired for the project. Gollott said the cultural resources study, which in part contains an environmental evaluation, has had to be resubmitted three times.
"Submitting this for a third time for evaluation has extended this project, which we the city and the citizens are very nervous about it. We're upset that it has taken this long time, and we want to see some completion on it," said Gollott.
The paperwork must also be looked over by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. Without the correct information, the mayor said MDOT can't do an environmental impact study. Without an impact study, the city can't start buying right of way.
"Of the 52 parcels that we have to purchase, there are 17 homes that are located alongside the road," said Gollott. "What we'll have to do is purchase those properties from those property owners and relocate those families to a comparable house somewhere within the city."
Gollott expects the right of way acquisition to take 18 months, so it will be awhile before the project could be finished.
"It's going to be another long, drawn out process. Probably another two years before we get the thing completed," said Gollott.
Gollott said the engineering firm promised the city at Wednesday night's council meeting it will submit another report to MDOT in the next two weeks.