HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The Hattiesburg Public Works Department is implementing a new way to repair streets to keep them in better condition longer and save money.
Director Larry Barnes said the city is testing a new pavement preservation plan to ensure Hattiesburg gets the full life out of the asphalt it already has on city streets.
"This is allowing us to use different applications to make sure we're picking the right street with the right application at the right time," Barnes said. "This application has been tried. It's tested, and it's true. We just thought it would be beneficial to the citizens of Hattiesburg to try this pavement preservation."
Barnes said the chip sealing process uses a gravel made of emulsions and polymers to seal cracks in asphalt that would likely reappear even if a road was repaved.
"What we want to do is preserve the asphalt in the condition it's in," Barnes said. "Then, come back with a think overlay after a couple of years, and that will lock that road in for maybe 10 to 12 years."
Barnes also said the goal is to repair the roads before they are in such a state of disrepair that fixes are expensive to save taxpayer money long term.
"Be able to catch these roads at a low cost now, so in the long term, hopefully, we can take some of the money that's left over and put it in another fund," he said. "We can address some of the drainage issues that we have along with some of the dilapidated bridges that we have in the City of Hattiesburg. We're just trying to be innovative in ways we can find ways to stretch the taxpayers' dollars."
Council President Carter Carroll said saving money and making roads last longer sounds like a win-win.
"It's less expensive, and it will save us a lot of money in the long run," Carroll said. "It will stay solid longer. So it lasts longer, and it costs less. That's a good thing. If we can start paving more roads for the same amount of dollars, that's going to be good for everyone."
Biljac Burnside lives on Jervis Mims Road, which is one of the three streets where the city is testing the process.
"It sounds like a good thing," he said. "It would be nice if the city would communicate with the citizens a little bit and let them know what's going on and when things are going on. Then, we don't have to pick up the phone and bother them and call them and waste everybody's time."
While the idea of a new street is appealing, Burnside said the messy process has been a nuisance.
"Yeah I'm sure anybody in the city would be happy to have their road done," he said. "Right now, it's kind of inconvenient for us with the dust and stuff."
Barnes said he knows the dust is an annoyance, but hopes the residents can be patient and enjoy the outcome.
"It's a little bit dusty at times," Barnes said. "It's a little bit messy, but I think with citizens' patience, they'll like the end results of this application."
Barnes said Jervis Mims Road, Old Hickory Road and Poplar Road are the only streets being repaired with the new process now, but said has other streets in mind. He said the department will decide which would benefit most and add them to the project list in the near future.