Supes move forward with road plans

By: 
Faith Lifer
Staff Writer

The board of Supervisors made several motions to move forward with road plans in Oktibbeha County during their meeting Monday morning. Overall, supervisors took action to quicken Blackjack Road plans and to move forward with plans to improve District 5 roads.

In light of plans for Blackjack Road improvements moving slower than anticipated, supervisors took action to quicken plans Monday by taking the next step for enacting eminent domain.

“The purpose of that is we don’t want to lose the construction time and we don’t want to lose the money,” board Attorney Rob Roberson said.

“Right now, we have money allocated for the project that we could lose,” Roberson expanded. “If we don’t have this situated by the spring, when they want to start construction, we could lose the money at that point.”

Although the county hopes to start the project for Blackjack Road in the spring, construction can’t move forward until approximately 20 easements are signed by county residents, and the easement process has moved slower than originally expected.

During Monday’s meeting, Board Vice President and District 1 Supervisor John Montgomery made a motion to give Roberson the authority to draft a board order with County Engineer Clyde Pritchard. The order will potentially enact the eminent domain of any property owners who have not already signed easements for blackjack Road plans. Williams seconded the motion, which passed unanimously.

Overall, the construction plans for Blackjack Road aim to improve the safety and the “drivability” of the section from Stone Boulevard to Bardwell Road.

As previously reported by the Starkville Daily News, the blackjack Road improvement project includes:

-paving the road section
-widening the road section
-raising the road section 3 inches
-a new drainage system

Roberson said no residents will be displaced by the project.

“(For) the bulk of these scenarios, most of these people are losing less than one-fourth of an acre,” Roberson said.

Roberson thinks the process of enacting eminent domain will take approximately two months. After Roberson and Pritchard draft the order, the next step will be getting board approval for the order. Roberson hopes to have the order approved by the Nov. 19 meeting. The residents who sign the easements beforehand won’t be brought under eminent domain.

“I think I’ve gotten at least five (signed easements) back and commitments from three or four more,” Roberson said. “I’m hoping the bulk of these people sign easements before it.”

Roberson said he believes, once the process is through, the residents will be glad Blackjack Road is improved and safer.

“I honestly think these people will be thrilled once this gets done,” Roberson said. “Every one of these people’s property values will be increased, but more than anything, this is a safety issue.”

FURTHER ROAD PLANS

During the meeting, Oktibbeha County Road Manager Fred “Hal” Baggett requested permission to widen Theodis Road, which recently received maintenance work.

“I am going to request, as a result of the way the project turned out, that we be given a right to widen the road, which in of itself is not a major project,” Baggett said.

In response, District 5 Supervisor Joe Williams made a motion to allow Baggett to get easements as needed for the widening of Theodis Road. Howard seconded the motion, which passed unanimously.

“The road is not wide enough for the school bus, so we’re putting the children in danger,” Williams said.

As a result of Williams’ motion, Theodis Road moved from a maintenance stage into a building stage and all maintenance and construction costs will come from bond money allocated to District 5.

Williams made further requests to widen and pave Prather Drive and Fox Road as well.

“I do plan, if I have enough money available, to pave Prather (Drive) and Fox (Road) also,” Williams said. “I’d like to make a motion also that we give Mr. Baggett permission to get easements on Prather (Drive) and Fox Road also with the intention of paving those two roads if there is enough bond money to do so.”

Howard seconded Williams’ motion, which passed unanimously. Williams said he hopes to widen and pave all of Prather Drive and the northern section of Fox Road.

“I hope we can pave the northern section of Fox (Road) coming off Prather,” Williams said. “And all of Prather Drive.”

After the meeting, Williams said the Theodis Road project will take priority over the Prather Drive and Fox Road projects.

“This is in the planning stage,” Williams clarified. “There might not be enough funds available to complete the project this year.”

Williams has approximately $120,000 left in District 5 bond money for all three projects and there are not currently cost estimates available for the projects.

“We don’t have an estimated cost yet,” Williams said. “We haven’t gotten to that stage yet.”

“We’re going to use that money to go as far as it will take us. What we don’t finish, we will start in 2020 on the next four-year road plan,” Williams added.

The next four-year road plan starts in December 2020.

“But we have all good intentions about getting it done,” Williams said. “All three of these roads are roads that get flooded when it rains and it’s important that we make these roads safe for the residents to travel.”

Williams said any potential paving of the roads will not be finished until the spring or summer of 2019.

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