The BP Settlement Bill – formally known as Senate Bill 2002 – has been a huge asset to Mississippi counties and cities affected by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, with more than $750 million distributed statewide for repairs, improvement and infrastructure.
That’s certainly the case for Petal, where officials are putting the city’s $750,000 share of those funds to use on the repaving and repair of South Main Street and Smithville Road. In addition, the city will use local funds for additional road improvement projects in the Hunter’s Ridge subdivision off Sunrise Road.
“We paved North Main about three years ago, and it’s in good shape,” Mayor Hal Marx said. “So we’ll be paving South Main from where it intersects at Central Avenue, down close to the East Hardy Street bridge.
“We won’t be going all the way to bridge at this point, because they’re about to start work on replacing that bridge, and as part of that project, they’ll be also realigning South Main Street and paving part of that street. So for our part of it, we’ll probably pave down to close to where it intersects with Carterville Road and then come back toward the bridge, because we don’t know for sure how far they’re going to go with (the bridge replacement).”
Marx said work on Smithville Road, which connects Corinth and Davis roads, had been put off for a while because it was previously not considered a high-traffic area. Improvements have been necessitated, however, with the recent addition of several homes and an upcoming subdivision.
“So we anticipate a lot more traffic there, so Representative (Larry) Byrd got money for that road also,” Marx said. “Those two roads (Main and Smithville) will be paid for out of the BP money.”
The BP Settlement Bill was passed last year by Byrd and other representatives in a special session of the Mississippi Legislature, with Forrest County receiving $3 million and Forrest County $1.25 million. 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.
The improvement projects in Hunter’s Ridge will consist of repairs of on Mallard Drive, Dove Hollow and Nicklaus Trail.
“Those three streets are in very bad need of repair – the road bed itself is crumbling, and it needs to be reconstructed,” Marx said. “So we’re going to do those streets, and that way that whole subdivision will be in good shape, because about three years ago we did West Temple Road, so this will complete that whole subdivision area.”
Bids for all the projects will be taken until 10 a.m. June 20 at Petal City Hall on West 8th Ave. Official bid documents can be downloaded at www.sd-wprojects.com, and electronic bids can be placed on the website.
“Then the board (of aldermen) will have to award the bid, and probably within three, four or five weeks after that, the work will be started,” Marx said. “So probably some time after July 4th is when they’ll actually start doing the paving, if everything holds on schedule.”
Marx said he’s grateful for the BP funds, as otherwise road work can take some time because of limited funding.
“Unfortunately, there’s only so much money to go around, and we have not raised taxes to pay for any of these projects, so we try to pay as we go,” he said. “We are fortunate to get this BP money that’ll help with these two main projects – Smithville and Main Street – and our local funds will pay for the other three streets that we’re doing.
“So putting it all together in a package, we hope that we’ll get a good bid price, since it is going to be a pretty big package with all those streets in there together. We’ll wait and see, and if we have any money left over locally, we can possibly add another small street somewhere in town.”
Because the BP money is earmarked specifically for the Main Street and Smithville Road projects, any money left over from that venture would need to be used in relation with those roads.
“So if there’s any of that money left, we’ll probably do some sidewalk repair along Main Street,” Marx said. “We have some sidewalks that have some issues that have made it hard for people in wheelchairs, or people who are handicapped, to access the sidewalks. So because that is along Main Street, it would still qualify for that BP money.”