Vicksburg may force owners to upgrade 57 private roads

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 23, 2003

[7/23/03]Vicksburg officials said Tuesday they will consider a review of all 57 privately owned roads in Vicksburg to try to force owners to get them in shape.

“The main thing that should be mentioned is that we’re not getting benefits,” said Steve Snell, a resident of Blue Creek, one of the roads at issue.

Residents on the street have paid city taxes since being annexed in 1990, but because the city doesn’t own the street, it would be illegal for city crews to patch its potholes or do other work.

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The condition of Blue Creek Road is what prompted City Hall’s attention. “We should get the same respect of anyone else in the city,” Snell said.

Fire protection is also important, Mayor Laurence Leyens said.

“We need to enforce safety on private roads and bringing those streets to public safety standards,” Leyens said, indicating fire hydrants should be installed and widths should accommodate firetrucks. “The public’s safety is a main issue, even if we have to put pressure on the owners.”

Blue Creek Road was developed and is owned by Pete Buford, who has declined comment. “He (Buford) says the roads aren’t bad,” said Nancy Thomas, city attorney.

But Buford agreed in April to install hydrants, repair the road and establish a loop into Still Water Drive so firetrucks can have access.

A $40,000 performance bond was required during a special city board meeting Tuesday to guarantee that Buford completes repairs within 60 days. If any repairs have not been completed within 60 days, the $40,000 will be used to do so.

“Election year is coming up, and talk is cheap,” Snell said, in regard to the administration’s action. “If they want to do something, do it. Let’s see it happen.”

“To fix a gravel road costs money, but not a huge amount,” Leyens said.

“He (Buford) could at least fill up the potholes,” said North Ward Alderman Gertrude Young.

Private owners normally build subdivision streets and install drainage and utilities as part of a development’s costs. When built to county or municipal specifications, developers can petition local governments to accept ownership of the streets. If accepted, public maintenance begins.