Riverside proposal coming soonBy ANTHONY WARREN,
A proposal for the first phase of the Riverside Drive Reconstruction Project will likely be taken to Jackson city officials this month, so says an engineer working on the project.
“We’re in the process of finalizing the recommendation and will take it to the city in the next seven to 10 days,” said Joe Waggoner, CEO of Waggoner Engineering.
Waggoner was brought on last fall to design the first phase of the project, which will run from Peachtree Street to the Highland Drive/I-55 North flyover bridge.
Initial plans were presented at a public hearing earlier this year.
Public comments from the meeting were reviewed and a proposal was chosen, in part, based on that input.
The plan that will likely be taken to the city includes reducing Riverside to two lanes, separated by a median, and adding a multi-use path, Waggoner said.
The plan includes leaving in place the street’s iconic live oaks, which are popular among Northsiders.
Ward Seven Councilwoman Virgi Lindsay is looking forward to seeing the proposal, adding that Riverside is “among the worst streets in the city of Jackson.”
Riverside averages around 6,100 vehicles a day, according to Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) traffic count maps, and is a major roadway serving the Belhaven neighborhood, Murrah High School and Power APAC. The roadway also connects downtown Jackson to LeFleur’s Bluff State Park, the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science and the Mississippi Children’s Museum.
Yazoo clay has ravaged the street over the years, effectively turning it into a washboard.
A 2013 study conducted by Stantec Consulting Services showed that much of the street was at or near the end of its serviceable life four years ago.
According to the report, a section running from Belvoir Place to Howard Street, a major stretch of roadway in the first phase, had zero to three years of remaining service life even then.
The construction will include removing the Yazoo clay, as well as replacing and rehabilitating the water and sewer lines underneath the road.
Work is expected to cost around $8.8 million, but it was unclear at press time how the project would be paid for.
The design work was paid for with funds from the city’s one-percent infrastructure sales tax. However, the one-percent oversight commission had not set aside funding for the actual construction. Funds for phase two of the design work had been moved, for among other reasons, to pay for cost overruns on other projects.
The second phase would include completely rebuilding the roadway from Peachtree to North State Street.
The tax has been in place since 2014 and generates approximately $14 million a year. The commission recently approved new spending guidelines, which would require the city to use half of the funds collected each year for road repaving, leaving approximately $7 million for other projects.
Former Mayor Tony Yarber proposed issuing a line of credit to help pay for the work, but new Mayor Chokwe Lumumba had not decided if he would support issuing bond debt for the projects.
Lindsay, who took office last week, wanted more information about the city’s plans to issue long-term debt. “As a freshman member of the council I will be seeking more information before I make a decision,” she said. “I am anxious to see this project get under way.”