POPLARVILLE, MS (WLOX) - A messy highway project is creating problems for residents in Pearl River County, damaging cars and creating worry about safety.
The project is supposed to save money, but it's likely going to cost residents money. Aubrey Rawls says his truck is pummeled every day, to and from work, on Highway 26.
"You expect rocks being compacted down. Boy, was I surprised," he said. "Apparently, not only was it not compacted, but the tar was still good and loose and slinging rocks all over my truck."
Because of the project, Rawls says his truck is damaged.
"It's got rock chips all over it. Dents and dings, tar all over it. Tar all over the top of it," Rawls said. "I mean, we paid a lot of money for this vehicle."
This effort is called a district-wide chip seal project by the Mississippi Department of Transportation with contractor T.L. Wallace. It is just the second of seven throughout the district, covering about 100 miles of two-line highways.
MDOT project engineer Mason Key says the project is being done to preserve pavement on roads that transport fewer than 2,000 vehicles a day.
"The process is they clean the roadway, seal the route, put rock on top of it," Key said. "The next day, come behind it, brooming off the excess rock."
And, he acknowledges some problems.
"There will be loose rock," Key said. "We just ask that the motorists maintain safe speeds and that will help from excess rock from being slung."
Rawls says there is plenty of blame to go around.
"T. L. Wallace kind of dropped the ball on that, but MDOT should have never approved this type of material to be put down on the road," said Rawls.
Seth Wedgeworth's store, The Chrome Shack, sits right at the beginning of the road work. His main customers are truck owners.
"It's definitely hurt my business some," Wedgeworth said. "Lot of the heavy truck traffic is avoiding this area trying to keep from damaging their trucks and vehicles."
A sign that reads "Drive At Your Own Risk" meets traffic as it exits Interstate 59 onto Highway 26. It makes Rawls angry.
"I drive at my own risk every day. Somebody hits me, or a drunk driver hits me, it's their fault. If I'm coming down [and] there [are] loose rocks on the road, how is that my fault," said Rawls.
The project - which goes all the way to Highway 49 in Wiggins - is expected to take another week. WLOX News Now tried to reach out to T.L. Wallace for comment, but phone calls have not been returned.
Anyone who has any problems as a result of the project is asked to call MDOT at 601-428-8434.
The next scheduled project will be Highway 57 from Wire Road to the George County line.