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Detour a surprise to Culkin fire chief

Access to a portion of Oak Ridge Road that lies south of Bowie Road was cut off to regular traffic Thursday as construction continues at the intersection of the two county roads. Cars must now detour on Boy Scout Road and Culkin Road to reach homes on the south end of Oak Ridge Road.(Brian Loden The Vicksburg Post)

{11/6/04]Road construction at the intersection of Oak Ridge Road and Bowie Road in north Warren County has a fire official concerned, but construction and county officials say there is no cause for alarm.

Chuck Tate, chief of the Culkin Volunteer Fire Department, said he was concerned that blocking a portion of Oak Ridge Road where a contractor is building a new intersection for Bowie and Oak Ridge roads would add minutes to any time it would take the department’s fire truck to get from the fire station at the intersection of Oak Ridge and Freetown roads to a fire somewhere north of Openwood Plantation.

The portion of Oak Ridge Road that extends south of Bowie Road was closed to through traffic this week. Drivers wishing to reach streets south of Bowie Road or Lake Forest subdivision now have to detour on Boy Scout Road and Culkin Road.

“They told us it would be blocked off for weeks. That means our fire trucks will have to go around to Boy Scout Road. That will add about three minutes to our response time,” Tate said.

Although three minutes does not sound like a whole lot of time, he said it could be critical if a fire breaks out. A fire can go from first smoke to fully engulfing a room in much less than three minutes, he said.

Tate said they discovered another potential problem when they tried the alternate route through Boy Scout Road. Boy Scout Road is narrow and the fire truck met a Vicksburg Warren School District school bus coming the opposite direction.

“We were both scraping the trees on the side of the road,” Tate said.

Tate said his major complaint is no one talked to anyone with the Culkin volunteer department about closing the road before it happened.

District 1 supervisor David McDonald, in whose district the project is located, said the time given to Tate on how long the road would be closed three months was wrong.

“They don’t even have that much time left on the contract,” he said, adding a more accurate time period would be weeks instead of months.

In addition to that, Lynn Wolfe, one of the engineers with ABMB Engineers who works with Warren County, said asphalt pavement will be left on Oak Ridge Road specifically to allow emergency vehicles, such as fire trucks, to pass through the area.

“The barricades are placed so an emergency vehicle can get around them,” Wolfe said.

He said in addition to making the accommodation for fire trucks and other emergency vehicles, that part of Oak Ridge Road has to be maintained so the owners of homes along the stretch can have access to their driveways.

In addition, McDonald said, the E-911 Dispatch Office is told about any road or bridge problems so they can warn emergency responders when they are dispatched that they may have to use alternate routes.

Warren County supervisors awarded the contract for the intersection renovation to APAC Mississippi in May for $370,829. The project is funded by the State Aid Division of the Mississippi Department of Transportation.