$420,000 grant to aid Sumrall with sidewalk/ curb work, traffic light

By HASKEL BURNS,

It took a little waiting, but officials from the town of Sumrall were recently notified the town is the recipient of two grants for roadway improvement from the Mississippi Department of Transportation and the Mississippi Development Authority.

The first grant, which comes courtesy of MDOT’s Transportation Alternatives Program, will provide $300,000 for the construction of new sidewalks and curbing along the intersection of New York Avenue and Mississippi 42, as well as from Railroad Avenue to Center Avenue on the west side of Mississippi 589. Officials are required to match 20 percent of the grant, which was applied for in late 2017.

“The sidewalks are all in bad shape, and the curbs are all in bad shape, so we’re going to try to fix that with new curbing and new sidewalks,” Mayor Heath Sumrall said. “The landscape areas for the sidewalks will probably be changed.

“There may not be a landscape area between the curb and the sidewalk; it’ll probably be on the other side of it, so when people open their doors at the curbs, they won’t be hitting bushes. We’re probably going to rethink the whole design there.”

The second grant, a Small Municipalities and Limited Population Counties grant from the MDA, in the amount of $120,000, will go toward the construction of a full traffic signal at the intersection of Mississippi 42 and 589. Officials applied for the grant in July 2018.

“(That intersection) is a four-way stop right now, and it’s very frustrating because there’s turn lane and continuous lanes, and it just gets confusing,” Sumrall said. “There’s so many cars that come through, it’s hard for people to tell when people stopped at what time.

“It’s just not designed right – the turn lanes fall short of the continuous lanes, and in some instances a car will be blocking the view of another car that’s ready to turn in another lane, and people don’t really don’t know who stopped first because of that. It just creates a lot of frustration, so we intend to fix that with a real traffic control signal.”

There also will be a small town match on the MDA grant, but officials previously made room in the town’s budget in advance of receiving both grants.

Sumrall said the grants – which were procured with the help of Sen. Joey Fillingane and former Rep. Brad Touchstone – will be a huge help to the town.

“I’m excited about it,” he said. “We had hoped that we would get both grants, because the sidewalks will lead right up to (Mississippi 42), and with that we’ll have a pedestrian crossing and a signal crossing.

“We’ll have a push-button crosswalk for pedestrians at the signal light, so everything should be tied together.”

All that work will complement another proposed project in which Center Lane would be moved north to form a four-way intersection with City Hall Avenue and Main Street. Currently, City Hall Avenue, Main Street, Center Lane, Railroad Avenue and the Longleaf Trace all intersect near the United States Post Office, making for precarious driving conditions at that site.

“All of this will really tie together in one good project, because the sidewalks will be going down right where that new road will be located,” Sumrall said. “So everything seems like it’ll all work out for the best.”

In anticipation of the upcoming work, a public meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 15 at Sumrall Town Hall, 4880 Mississippi 589 in Sumrall, to provide residents with information regarding the grants.

“We’re going to have a couple of other projects going on this year, and 589 is going to be a very busy project zone,” Sumrall said. “We’re putting a water main in on 589 that’s going to run from the water tank on the hill to Oloh Road, and then of course with the sidewalks being dug up and repaired, we’re just going to have a construction zone from 42 all the way to Oloh Road.

“So we just need to start advertising that so everybody will be aware of it, and help us with some safety issues and all.”