The stretch of road that connects Highway 12 and Highway 25 in Oktibbeha County is named Longview Road.
Residents along that 3.77 mile stretch of gravel road had no idea just how accurate that name would prove to be.
Visions of a paved road have proven to require a Long View, indeed.
Three years ago, people who live on the road were told the gravel road would be paved, something residents had been begging the county to do for years. The road washes out during heavy rains, often becoming impassable, especially during the winter.
In October 2018, the county said it would devote $886,000 in state aid road funds and another $750,000 in BP Oil Spill funds to go along with up to $250,000 of its own money for the project, which was projected to cost $1.8 million. The project was supposed to have been completed by Christmas of 2019.
Almost from the moment the Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors approved the project, there has been one delay after another.
Last week, they learned they’ll have to wait again: The board of supervisors, when confronted by Longview Road residents, admitted, somewhat sheepishly, that the project would not begin until next year.
Wait ‘til next year is something residents are all too familiar with.
Although the board of supervisors approved the project in October of 2018, it didn’t award a contract until June 2019 with the contractor, saying it would be the summer of 2020 before it started the project, a delay the supervisors — none of whom live on Longview Road — didn’t find an inconvenience.
But by the time spring of 2020 rolled around, the COVID-19 pandemic pushed the project back even farther. This summer, as it appeared the project was finally ready to go, it was discovered the project did not have the necessary easements. Obtaining easements is a basic part of any road project. That such an egregious failure in due diligence will now result in yet another delay was met with a shrug of the shoulders by the supervisors who — did we mention this? — don’t live on Longview Road.
Hurricane Ida ended all hopes of starting the project this year because — you guessed it — of flooding on Longview Road.
This “things happen”’ attitude just doesn’t fly anymore.
We don’t know how many miles of road have been paved in Oktibbeha County since the Longview Road project was approved three years ago, but we do know how many miles of that road haven’t been paved: all 3.7 miles. Assuming that, by some miracle, this project is actually completed by the summer of 2022, it will have been almost four years since the project was green-lighted – or less than a mile per year.
The supervisors have failed to live up to their commitment to the residents of Longview Road. They have also failed all county taxpayers. The original $1.8 million project increased to $2.2 million by the time the contract was awarded to Phillips Contracting in 2019. And with material costs rising, there’s little doubt that the cost will increase with each passing month.
It’s time the supervisors took this project seriously — or at least, pretend to.
The Dispatch Editorial Board is made up of publisher Peter Imes, columnist Slim Smith, managing editor Zack Plair and senior newsroom staff.