Rice Road pulled from new road plan
MADISON — Heavily-trafficked Rice Road here was excluded from a road plan in favor of rural roads in northern Madison County and roads in Ridgeland.
Three Madison County supervisors voted on Monday to use the county’s state aid road monies appropriated for the next four years for their districts, leaving the badly-needed Rice work unfunded since 2003.
District 3 Supervisor Gerald Steen of Ridgeland, District 4 Supervisor Karl Banks, and District 5 Supervisor Paul Griffin all voted to fund projects in Ridgeland and more rural parts of the county Griffin and Banks represent despite a plea from newly-seated District 1 Supervisor Casey Brannon to fund roads based on need and traffic count.
Meanwhile, Steen pitched a delay on the Bozeman Road work.
Madison County received $4.7 million from the state for the new four-year board term for state aid road work.
Rice Road from St. Augustine Drive to Hoy Road hasn’t been worked on in over 20 years.
The work required on Rice includes milling, overlay, and re-striping.
According to the state aid paperwork, the road has an average daily traffic count of 7,600 vehicles a day and would cost an estimated $887,272.73.
Brannon told his fellow supervisors that he spent four hours on Sunday driving all of the roads being presented on the plan and Rice Road is in the third worst shape of them all.
“It is very poor,” he said, adding school busses are driven on those roads each day.
Despite an initial motion by Brannon to fund Rice Road, as well as roads in District 4 and District 5 which he called the worst, Steen was able to push through a substitute motion to vote in order on the agenda.
The road projects began at District 5, moving down to District 1.
Supervisors started by approving Loring Road in District 5 from Stump Bridge Road to Highway 17. The road work, with an average daily vehicle count of 470, will cost $1,774,545.45.
Brannon admitted Loring Road was in horrible shape.
“This is a definite no-brainer,” he said, adding there is also a school on that road and nobody should feel safe driving there.
That road was approved unanimously.
From there, the 3-2 votes began, with Virlilia Road in District 4. The average daily vehicle count is 150, with a cost of $582,272.73.
There was no discussion among Steen, Banks, or Griffin on the Virlilia project. Brannon previously said that he would like to use leftover funds from a few other projects to go towards Virlilia, admitting parts of Virlilia resembled a third-world country.
Next up was Cox Ferry Road in District 4 from the Madison County line to Joe Hall Road. With an average daily vehicle count of 550, overlay and re-striping will cost $887,272.73.
Moving into District 3, Rice Road from Pear Orchard Road to Old Canton Road was discussed. The cost, with an unknown traffic count, is about $776,000, according to County Engineer Tim Bryan.
The initial application on the county agenda was amended, but not added to the agenda.
The initial application was from U.S. 51 to Harbor Drive, with an average of 7,300 vehicles per day for $1.025 million.
Brannon said he drove the road and found nothing wrong with it.
“I would let my grandmother eat hot soup in the back of this car,” he said.
Brannon said the last time work was done on the road was in 2014-2015, meaning it’s not even 10 years old.
He then launched into Mississippi code, saying it “shall be the duty” of the board to “properly maintain all state aid roads.”
He made another appeal for Rice Road in Madison, which hasn’t had work in over 20 years, to be approved.
“I think we need to vote “no” on any roads that do not need maintenance,” he said.
Steen, speaking to Brannon, interjected, suggesting he must be the only one with a “thought and opinion” on the board before adding that Ridgeland officials had requested the road be added.
“We’ll just move forward with it and go from there,” Steen said. “You’ll learn as you go forward. You’ll learn along the way there’s never enough money to do all of the state aid roads.”
Brannon fired back, “You do not care about what the citizens of Madison County need.”
District 2 Supervisor Trey Baxter then jumped in, asking what the total paving cost for roads in Districts 3-5 add up to, which Brannon responded was $4,685,907 — leaving approximately $14,000 left for District 1 and District 2.
Steen then moved the meeting on, where the board voted to add Pear Orchard Road from Lake Harbour Drive to Rice Road in District 3 to be funded. The road has 5,800 vehicles on average per day and overlay and re-striping will cost an estimated $415,909.09.
Rice Road in Madison was pulled from the agenda for lack of funding, as was Parkway East Road from the Madison city limits to Gluckstadt city limits. The average daily vehicle count there is 2,200, with an estimated cost of $1,053,636.36.
“We’re out of state aid money,” Steen said.