City wants to take over replacing lights on I-20

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 26, 2002

[03/26/02]Lights that illuminate Interstate 20 and its intersections around Vicksburg may be burning brighter soon if city officials can reach an agreement with the Mississippi Department of Transportation.

The Vicksburg Board of Mayor and Aldermen is working on a deal to allow city personnel to change bulbs in the towering fixtures as they burn out. The state would provide the bulbs and reimburse the cost of labor.

Mayor Laurence Leyens said there are some details of the contract, tabled Monday, that need to be worked out, but that the city wants to take on the job.

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“I just want to make sure that every time a bulb goes out we can go out there and change it instead of waiting for up to six months,” Leyens said.

The fixtures were installed nearly 20 years ago in a pilot program. The arrays of lamps atop metal poles can be lowered for maintenance using cables inside the poles. But because lights along state highways and interstates are changed by contract crews out of Jackson working for MDOT, service has always been intermittent.

City officials contacted MDOT last month about taking over so that drivers in Vicksburg can be assured of good lighting.

Central Transportation Commissioner Dick Hall was supportive.

South Ward Alderman Sid Beauman said the problem with the contract presented to the city board is it did not provide the city with the use of equipment needed to change lights on the poles along I-20.

There are 84 light fixtures along I-20 in Vicksburg’s municipal limits. The bulbs need changing about once a year and the state has offered to pay the city $200 per fixture or about $16,800 a year to do the work.

Employees in the traffic department would do the work, Leyens said.

In other matters the board:

Authorized the building inspector to demolish the old gymnasium at the former Carr Central High School and clean the lot. The cost of the work will be assessed against the property.

Authorized the City Clerk to advertise for bids to pave the parking lot at Crawford and Washington streets. Work, expected to begin after Riverfest in April and be finished in about four months, is estimated to cost $134,000.

Entered an agreement with Care Environmental Corp. for the Household Hazardous Waste Collection Day on April 6 at the old Battlefield Mall.

Declared April as Child Abuse Prevention Month.

Approved requests by the Special Olympics to have a local Law Enforcement Torch Run at 9:30 a.m. April 2 from National and Drummond streets to the entrance of the Vicksburg High School stadium and at 9 a.m. April 23 from the Warren County Courthouse to Clay Street and Mississippi Highway 27.

Approved capital improvement projects at the Vicksburg Convention Center. The projects are work on the area north of the building, $60,000, renovations in the basement, $90,000, and resurfacing the exhibit hall floor, $32,000. The projects are being funded out of the center’s budget.