City of Jackson leaders joined state and federal representatives to officially break ground on Fortification Street Wednesday morning, signaling the beginning of a project that's been in the works for ten years.
All the bumps, ruts, cracks, and gravel you see on the roadway today, will soon be gone. The changes will cause traffic to slow down on Fortification Street, and create a more pedestrian-friendly area.
Councilwoman Margaret Barrett-Simon has been working hard with her Belhaven constituents behind the scenes to make this work. We asked her what was the toughest part of the process.
"Getting everyone in the same room at the same time. Putting it all together," she says. "Also, we had the complication of being historic districts."
Mayor Harvey Johnson told the crowd gathered for the announcement that obtaining 45 separate rights-of-way was tedious and time-consuming.
"The funders like to have money spent very promptly, so we appreciate their working with us, the state, federal government working with us on this project," Mayor Johnson says. We've had to jump a number of hurdles to make this project happen, not only acquiring rights-of-way from some 45 property owners, but also to come to agreements with the neighborhoods involved as to what the project would look like."
The plan includes reconstructing 1.2 miles of Fortification Street from "Short Farish" Street to Greymont Avenue, replacing water and sewer mains, constructing and replacing sidewalks, replacing traffic signals, and relocating all utilities to underground.
Between Jefferson Street and Greymont, the project will convert the four-lane section to three lanes. The change will provide a dedicated left turn lane to move left-turning motorists out of the through lane of traffic. It will also provide additional space for ADA compliant sidewalks on both sides of the street.
Those who travel Fortification Street say, better late than never.
"It's like a railroad track. It's horrible," says Alice Williams of Jackson. "I'm so glad they will start work on it."
"It's been way overdue," says Rusty McDaniel. "You can't drive 15 miles per hour down the road. It's a great thing."
William Gipson says he has worked in the City of Jackson for 18 years. "It will be nice, a lot easier to drive on it without it being as rough as it's been for so long," he says.
The $8.9 million project will begin in short order, and should take 18 months to complete. Hemphill Construction won the contract.
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