Roads survey in city sorely needed

Published 12:15 pm Wednesday, March 11, 2015

That bumpy patch at Porters Chapel and Raintree Road seems like a good place for Applied Research Associates Inc. to test their sensors and cameras for the big streets study. Ditto for sections of East Clay Street where water pools in the middle of lanes after heavy rains. And so many places in between, too.

The firm hired by Vicksburg officials in January to survey road conditions in the city has the job of quantifying the city’s driving conditions through technology. Physical road conditions and an inventory of the city’s street signs will be recorded and sent to company offices here and in other states. Officials have more than half of a $9.3 million bond issue to play with to finance the work, expected to begin later this month.

Putting a little technology on streets paved after similar bond issues in 2006 and 2008 is a good thing, too. More than $7 million in paving went to resurface much of the downtown area, well-traveled subdivision streets in the southern part of town and in sections of the northern half of the city. It’ll be a progress report, of sorts, on those expensive ventures.

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It’s heartening to hear the city won’t wait on the company to fulfill its $143,500 contract to start paving. Public Works Director Garnet Van Norman said his crews would begin if bonds sell faster than a report is ready from the consultant. He mentioned parts of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, areas of Cedar Hill Cemetery and subdivision streets in Fox Run subdivision in south Vicksburg, which just came under city maintenance, as possibilities.

Paying consultants for work local governments don’t have the crews or expertise to do is fine, as long as the hired guns deliver the work on time and thorough. Hired engineers for Warren County survey and rate the worst road conditions outside the city once a year. Granted, their funding sources are more mixed due to state subsidies — major thoroughfares such as Fisher Ferry Road are on that list while smaller subdivision streets in the county are not. Still, efforts are made to keep the road segments most in need of work high on the list.

It’s high time the city streets had such a progress report and its results are highly anticipated.