Realignment of Smithville Road to make travel safer

By HASKEL BURNS,

A potentially dangerous intersection on Smithville Road in Petal will soon be realigned to make traveling that stretch of road safer for motorists.

The Petal Board of Aldermen voted unanimously last week to accept a $25,940 bid from Fairley Construction of Petal to complete the work, which will straighten out the intersection of Smithville and Corinth Roads. The realignment will be done in conjunction with an existing paving project on Smithville Road.

“It was brought to our attention that the present design of the road, it makes it very dangerous to turn back to the right (onto Corinth) from Smithville – you sort of come up the hill at an angle, and it’s difficult to do,” Mayor Hal Marx said. “So the thought was that while we were paving Smithville, we kind of line it back up to where it’s a little bit easier to go in that direction.”

In preparation for the work, the city has purchased the small, triangular piece of land formed by the intersection. Marx said based on the opinion of John Weeks, project engineer at Shows, Dearman & Waits, officials are hopeful that the work will cost less than expected once the project begins.

“They’re going be using some of the same dirt,” Marx said. “They’re going to dig up part of that road, where it comes out now, and they plan on using some of the dirt from that to put over at the other spots instead of having to bring it in. So it may actually be a little less than the quote.”

The paving on Smithville Road is being done with the help of $750,000 from the BP Settlement Bill, which is also being used to repave a stretch of South Main Street.

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.

“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 – formally known as Senate Bill 2002 – was passed last year by Byrd and other representatives in a special session of the Mississippi Legislature, with more than $750 million distributed statewide for repairs, improvement and infrastructure.

Of those funds, Lamar County received $3 million and Forrest County $1.25 million. The monies are a result of Mississippi’s lawsuit against BP for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, in which 210 million gallons of oil were spilled into the Gulf of Mexico.

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 in an earlier story. “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.”