Preliminary work needs updating on Reunion interchange Phase twoBy MEGAN PHILLIPS,
Madison County officials are trying to move forward with the Reunion interchange (phase two) project.
County Engineer Dan Gaillet told the board of supervisors during a recent board meeting that the current work done for the project dates back 11 years.
The county will have to redo the environmental process and advertise for design services before moving forward with construction, which is 10 years “down the road.”
“This project dates back 11-plus years,” Gaillet said. “As a county, we’ve got a lot of work we’ve got to do to get to the point that we hope, at the end of the day, we’ve got a bridge over the interstate that is something the federal highway and MDOT (Mississippi Department of Transportation) can hook to.”
Gaillet said the county needs to start moving forward immediately in order to make progress with the project.
“I recommend we advertise for engineering services, with the idea and thought that this is going to take us a while,” he said. “Certainly, going back through the environmental process will take us a year, but the bridge is five, 10 years down the road.”
“The county wants to build a bridge across the interstate. We will permit them to do that,” MDOT commissioner Dick Hall said in October. “The interchange can’t be built until the highway is six lanes… We don’t have the money to think about doing that right now.”
But Hall said someday it’s going to need to be done.
“It’d be nice if it could be done yesterday, but we don’t have the money to do it. The interstate has to be six lanes before the interchange can be built… It’s the whole package.”
Gaillet told the board that he understands MDOT doesn’t currently have the money for an interchange, but that could change in a decade.
“But at the end of the day, we want to be able to walk away from the project so that if and when MDOT finds funding, they can hook into this bridge,” he said.
Once the county completes the environmental studies and design services, construction will be the next step.
“When we go to construction, MDOT will have other requirements that we’ll have to jump through at that point.”
When the environmental process is completed, Gaillet said the county road department will have a better idea of how the new design of the interchange will look.
In June, Jim Hust, a State Aid engineer for Madison County, suggested county officials create a new design based off the old design for the project.
“We would suggest you take the existing work and assume you can use as much as you can, evaluate that, and create 60 percent design for the new project.”
The county is looking at spending $300,000 to $400,000 just to update and complete the environmental process, according to Gaillet.
“At the end of that, we’ll come out and say, ‘OK, this is what we’re going to build, and it’s going to cost this amount of dollars.’ ”
The board of supervisors approved Gaillet’s request to move forward with environmental and design.