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Engineers hired for street work

The Jackson City Council has taken a step forward toward using the $40 million in bonds it approved last year to cover infrastructure repairs.

The council authorized the mayor on April 23 to sign a professional engineering services agreement with Integrated Management Services.

Integrated Management Services was hired to provide initial preliminary technical services, including developing the overall schedule for the program, identifying projects council members want to see built with the bond funds, prioritizing the projects’ design and developing of cost estimates.

The agreement requires Integrated Management Services to pay no more than $150,000 for a term not to exceed six months, unless amended.

The $40 million in funding will be distributed among the city’s seven wards, each receiving approximately $5 million. Each council member has a say in determining the work to be done in their district.

Ashby Foote, who represents Ward 1 on the City Council, said he plans to consult with neighborhood associations in his district about streets in need of repairs.

He also plans to contact the One Percent Sales Tax Commission, which is focusing its efforts on improving residential streets.

In 2021, the commission asked area homeowners associations to submit the names of streets in their neighborhoods that they would like to see redone, beginning the commission’s selection process. Milling and resurfacing of asphalt began earlier this year on the first round of area streets.

“I want to make sure we maximize road repairs,” Foote said. “There are many roads that have not been paved for a long time.”

One road in his neighborhood that could use attention, Foote said, is East Northside Drive.

Foote said he hopes work can start this summer if weather permits road repairs.

Pete Perry, a member of the One Percent Sales Tax Commission, doubts that actual road repairs will start this summer as no specifications have been written for the projects, none have been advertised for bids and there are no bids granted.

“The city isn’t moving that fast,” he said.

Perry said $40 million could make a big dent in infrastructure improvements.

Repairing a city bridge costs about $250,000 to $500,000, he said.

Milling and building a residential street costs about $150,000 per mile, provided no repairs are needed at the base, he said.

The city of Jackson does not have a city engineer and Perry questions who will manage the infrastructure projects, review the accounts and review the work of Integrated Management Services.

The bonds, approved by the Mississippi Development Bank, for infrastructure repair costs will be repaid over 16 years using at least a portion of the city’s modernization tax revenue. That’s the money the city receives from online sales tax diversions, which amount to about $10 million annually.