Madison County to appoint new Reunion Parkway interchange committee

By MEGAN PHILLIPS,

Madison County officials will need to reappoint a new five-person committee responsible for the Reunion Parkway interchange project because of a procedural issue.

Originally the supervisors named committee members. However Katie Bryant Snell, board attorney, said the county engineer was responsible for the appointments.

The committee will be in charge of choosing an environmental assessor and design engineer for the project.

“Really what we’re going to do is bring this committee together (and) select an engineer,” County Engineer Dan Gaillet said.

Then the committee will discuss the project with the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) and the Federal Highway Administration to ensure the project continues to run smoothly.

“We’ll get MDOT’s approval on that engineer. Once that team is brought on board, we’ll go back and sit down in front of MDOT and the Federal Highway and say, ‘OK, What are you expecting from us at this point? How far do we need to carry this environmental (process) to satisfy your requirements that we can then move into the design phase?’ ”

Late last month, District 2 Supervisor Trey Baxter made a motion to appoint himself, along with District 1 Supervisor Sheila Jones, County Administrator Shelton Vance, Building and Grounds County Manager Danny Lee and Gaillet for the five-person committee.

The board approved the motion with a majority vote.

“Supervisor Jones and I have been going up to meet with some of our statewide elected officials, and we’re getting lots of positive feedback on getting some funding for this bridge going over I-55, the first step of the interchange,” Baxter said.

However, during the second January board meeting, Baxter made a motion to dissolve the committee, which was unanimously approved.

“It’s got to be formed by the county engineer, not the board, according to the board attorney,” Baxter later clarified. “He can put the same members on it. It’s just a procedural issue.”

               

Once the new committee is formed, it can move forward with completing the environmental design, which Gaillet said can take between 15 and 18 months.

The committee will choose engineering firms to evaluate and rank. 

“Then we’ll pull some recommendations that we’ll carry forward to the board,” Gaillet said.

Once the chosen firm completes the environmental process, MDOT will have to approve the results.

“Then we can move to the design of it. So, we’re in the very first stages of trying to get the submission of qualifications submitted to the county.”

Gaillet added that MDOT will be more involved than is required for the project in order to save time and money for the county.

“We wanted to partner up with the FHA and MDOT and have them kind of check off on everything we’re doing… If federal money or state money shows up later, we haven’t missed some sort of step that we’ll have to go back and redo.”

It will be 2019 before the committee and the county can begin talking about the design process of the project, according to Gaillet.

Social

Crisler Boone is the new executive director of the Baptist Health Foundation, responsible for helping raise money that makes any healthcare at Baptist more affordable and more comfortable.