HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - Plans to build an overpass over Hall Avenue in Hattiesburg are moving forward.
At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, $15 million in bonds was secured to complete the funding for the project, which was announced in February. The project aims to alleviate delays at railroad crossings in downtown.
The city received a federal grant of $5.3 million for the project and will be adding $6.6 million to complete the it.
Hattiesburg Mayor Toby Barker described it as a game changing move.
“We have 20 rail crossings that are all at grade in and around our downtown area,” Barker said. “So if you live on one side of that and a train is blocking the way, you can’t get first responders there.”
“I mean everyone knows the train issues we’ve had in Hattiesburg for decades,” Barker added.
Since the city only needs to use $6.6 million of the $15 million approved, the rest can go toward another overpass.
“We are going after funding for another overpass that would go across the Norfolk Southern line, and so this would allow the match money if that federal money came through as well,” Barker said.
The City Council also approved an election set for Aug. 25 to decide if the franchise agreement between Mississippi Power and the city will continue. Under the current agreement, Mississippi Power pays the city a percentage of revenue from energy sales inside the city.
“This franchise agreement allows the city to go for 3%, which is what we did 25 years ago,” Barker said. “That means $1.2 to $1.4 million per year for first responders, for paving streets, for other things the city uses the general fund for.”