The Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors met on a rainy Monday morning and approved several road and bridge projects around the county.
Most notably, after a brief executive session with Starkville City Attorney Chris Latimer, Supervisors approved two instances of property acquisition along Blackjack Road as part of the county's ongoing effort to expand and improve that road.
One section of land was donated to the county, and another was obtained for a negotiated price of $5,000.
While some property must still be acquired before work can begin, Board President Orland Trainer of District 2 said Monday's gains were an important step.
“We're excited," Trainer said. "It's getting us closer to the goal line. We're still not ready to start construction, but we're getting close.”
Trainer said two other cases of land acquisition were being sorted out and would not likely cost the county anything to obtain. He also said Supervisors recognized the dire state of the road.
“The need for the road to have been completed by now is just phenomenal and great," Trainer said. "I'm excited we're moving forward.”
As the end of the year approaches, peak construction season comes to a close, but Trainer was hopeful about using the coming months to acquire the necessary land.
“Hopefully, we'll get all this stuff done before the end of year, and maybe in the spring we can bid a contract," Trainer said. "That would be great.”
Improvements to Blackjack Road, which sits just outside the city limits in the county, have been requested for years but struggles with property owners have continuously posed problems for many projects.
With Monday's votes by Supervisors and pending cases appearing to be heading in the right direction, Trainer said he was confident about the project moving forward.
Other projects not reliant on private property owners were approved by Supervisors at Monday's meeting.
A project to improve Sun Creek Road was unanimously approved with the lowest bid coming in at $936,910. County Engineer Clyde Pritchard said the county still had $966,126 in money from the Mississippi Department of Transportation sitting in the Emergency Road and Bridge Repair Fund.
With those numbers in mind, Pritchard recommended Supervisors move ahead with the project, and they decided to do so unanimously. Carthage-based contractor N. L. Carson Construction Company will oversee the project.
Pritchard also asked Supervisors to approve a project to improve a bridge on Longview-Adaton Road, a project the Board had previously held off on due to a concern for the costs of the Sun Creek Road improvements.
With Sun Creek Road improvements approved, Supervisors also gave the green light to the Longview-Adation bridge project for the lowest bid of $655,814, with $161,844 coming from the state money dedicated to bridge repairs.
Finally, Pritchard gained necessary signatures from Supervisors to move forward on bridge project in the city on Barnett Drive funded by state bridge money.
In an update on current projects, Pritchard said construction on Poor House Road was going well and appeared to be on schedule.
The county engineer also said a project to repair County Lake Road was entering its final stages of planning as cost estimates arrived. Pritchard noted plans to fix the slope behind the Oktibbeha County Jail were being finalized.
Regarding the in-progress Longview Road project to pave it, Pritchard said despite appearances, progress was being made.
“You're not seeing much activity on Longview Road right now, but that's because pipes are being ordered, cisterns are being ordered to fit the bill," Pritchard said. "They'll be out there soon.”