Petal gets $750K for road paving in BP settlement

By HASKEL BURNS,

The city of Petal will soon receive $750,000 for two road repair projects as part of Mississippi’s lawsuit against BP regarding the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Petal Board of Aldermen voted unanimously Tuesday night to accept a Memorandum of Understanding with the Mississippi Department of Finance and Administration establishing conditions associated with Senate Bill 2002, commonly known as the BP Settlement Bill. The funds will specifically be used to for paving on Main Street and Smithville Road.

“It’ll be a tremendous help,” Mayor Hal Marx said. “Smithville Road is in really bad shape … but this will now help us to be able to (repair) that, because it does need repair.

“And then Main Street, we just did the resealing on South Main because we wanted to try stretch out the life of the road without having to repave it, because we know that’s an expensive job with it being a three-lane road. But this will now help us be able to go in and do that.”

After those projects are done, any leftover funds could be used to conduct other repair projects, such as sidewalks along Main Street that need to be brought into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

“So we’ll see how much money we have left at the end of paving, and then we’ll do some other additional work on the sidewalks,” Marx said.

In early September, lawmakers in Forrest and Lamar counties were able to secure more than $4 million in connection with the $750 million received by Mississippi through the settlement with BP. Lamar County will receive $3 million, while Forrest County will get $1.25 million.

Of the $3 million coming to Lamar County, $1.5 million will be used for safety improvements to the intersection of Mississippi 589 and Scruggs Road in Sumrall, $1 million will go to the Lamar County School District to help pay for facility repairs and improvements at Lumberton schools and $500,000 will be set aside for parks and infrastructure improvements in Sumrall.

In Forrest County, the entire $1.25 million was earmarked for road improvements, including the $750,000 going to Petal. A repair project designated for Hardy Street from U.S. 49 to Pine Street in Hattiesburg will receive $400,000, while $100,000 will be allocated to resurface 38th Avenue in Hattiesburg.

The funds are a result of Mississippi’s lawsuit against BP for the oil spill, in which 210 million gallons of oil were spilled into the Gulf of Mexico. Seventy-five percent of the money will go to what have been designated as the six coastal counties – Pearl River, Stone, George, Hancock, Harrison and Jackson – while 25 percent will go to the rest of the state.

“It wasn’t just to make us whole for the environmental impact, but to make the state whole for any losses that we incurred as Mississippians as a result of that accident,” Rep. Brad Touchstone, R-Hattiesburg, said in a previous story. “A lot of people don’t realize that not only was the Coast affected, but the entire Mississippi economy was impacted, including the state of Mississippi’s sales tax revenue.

“The state of Mississippi incurred extensive expenses responding to that disaster, so that’s what this money was for – to make our state whole.”