By David A. Farrell, Item Staff Writer
The Picayune Item
At Tuesday’s board meeting, Alderman Bill Winborn asked Mayor Billy Spiers to call Southern District Highway Commissioner Tom King and request that MDOT install flashing red lights, at least, at the intersection of Mississippi Highway 26 Bypass and U.S. Highway 11.
And former District Three Supervisor Hudson Holliday told the board that unless something is done at the intersection soon, someone eventually will be killed there in a major traffic accident.
He said he and friends have coffee at Minute Mart most mornings and all have observed 18-wheelers and motorists run the stop signs posted there. “They just go barreling through it because of inattention and not being familiar with the highway,” said Holliday.
“They don’t do it intentionally, but through inattention, but it is inevitable that a bad accident will occur there, if something is not done,” Holliday told the board. “It’s a tragedy waiting to happen.”
He said he had emailed King and requested MDOT officials do something. Holliday got MDOT to install rumble strips at the intersection when he was supervisor, but they have worn out, Winborn said.
Spiers told Winborn he would call King on Wednesday morning and discuss the matter with King.
Miss. Hwy. 26 is a major thoroughfare through Poplarville from Interstate 59 stretching 28 miles to connect with Washington Parish and Bogalusa, La.
And U.S. Hwy. 11 is the major artery north and south, with the exception of I-59. Heavy traffic from Picayune and points south of Poplarville use the highway and the intersection of Miss. Hwy. 26 and U.S. Hwy. 11 to commute to Pearl River Community College, the main campus being in northwest Poplarville.
Currently, the intersection has stop signs posted, enforcing a four-way stop, but Poplarville officials said the intersection needed flashing warning lights, as a bare minimum solution. It was mentioned that maybe traffic signals should be installed at the busy and dangerous intersection.
On another matter, Spiers told the board the engineering estimate concerning the waterline extension down Miss. Hwy. 26 to its intersection with I-59 had been received, and said it took on added significance because he was planning to meet with two men on Wednesday, one of whom he believes is looking for a location to construct a motel in or near Poplarville, perhaps either at the Miss. Hwy. 53 or Miss. Hwy. 26 intersections with I-59.
Spiers said the engineers’ estimate came in at $176,312.40. A rough estimate done by him and City Clerk Jodi Stuart came in between $100,000 and $140,000 and was first broached by Spiers to aldermen at their last Feb. 19 meeting.
During that meeting, Spiers told board members that he believed Poplarville was losing business prospects by not having a reliable water supply at the Miss. Hwy. 26-I-59 intersection as it does at Miss. Hwy. 53 and I-59. He then said that he would see a prospect on Wednesday morning who might be interested in locating a motel in Poplarville, perhaps at one of two intersections on I-59 near Poplarville.
“The gentleman who is interested in putting in a motel did not say where or when or what type of motel, but I would suspect it will be along I-59, if he chooses to go forward with it, and that’s why this water extension on (Miss. Hwy.) 26 takes on added significance,” Spiers told the board.
At the Feb. 19 meeting, Spiers told the board that the city had the funds on-hand to complete the waterline extension, and on Tuesday, even though the engineers estimate was a little higher than the in-house estimate, Spiers said he still thought the board “could swing it.”
Said Spiers, “I am not asking for a motion tonight, but give us a chance to look over our figures, to see what we can do with it, and I will come back with it at the next board meeting.” The next board meeting is March 19.
City waterlines already stretch out to Wheat’s Home & Building Center, and the proposed project would run an eight-inch line from there on out to Miss. Hwy. 26’s intersection with I-59.
In other matters, the board:
— Heard Kim Marmalich, CPA with Alexander and Van Loon of Gulfport, the city auditor, say the city books are in good shape, and although the city cash balance is a little below last year’s cash balance, it still was adequate. The company annually briefs the board on its audit reports.
— Heard Spiers say he will have to meet with HRL Contracting, Inc., Picayune, the contractor on the Beers Street project, which is now complete. HRL billed the city $35,000 for the job and the project engineer on the work says the city owes $25,000 for it, Spiers said.
— Took under advisement a Pearl River Utility Authority letter regarding sewer lines and street failure.
— Took under advisement a proposed meter deposit increase.
— Authorized two employees to attend the water operator training workshop in Biloxi on April 11. It is a mandated training session. — Adopted a resolution authorizing the mayor to file for a DUI enforcement grant application.
— Reviewed the Feb. 28 planning commission minutes.
— Approved the Feb. 15 minutes.
— Approved the March 5 claims docket.
— Renewed the water tank maintenance contract.
— Recessed to the March 19 meeting.