Public hearing for Phase 5 roadwork set

By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal

The City Council tonight set a March 1 public hearing for the next phase of the Major Thoroughfare Program.

It begins a two-month process leading up to a May 3 special election to renew the program.

The motion passed 5-2, with President Fred Pitts and Ward 7 Councilman Willie Jennings opposed.

“There’s no need to rush,” Jennings said.

Ward 6 Councilman Jonny Davis was absent and did not vote.

The Major Thoroughfare Program is a taxpayer-funded initiative for large-scale road improvement projects. It levies a 10-mill property tax, which generates roughly $20 million over a five-year phase.

It’s currently in Phase 4.

Projects for the next phase include the widening of East Main and West Jackson streets. And for the first time it, it recommends setting aside $5 million for smaller projects requested by the city.

But that $5 million is in limbo as city officials debate the merits of including municipal projects in the next phase. Another proposal on the table – to reduce the program to $10 million and use the rest of the money on neighborhood revitalization – also is being considered.

After the public hearing, the council will have three weeks to weigh its options before officially setting the phase’s priorities.

Residents will then go to the polls in a special election May 3 to accept or reject the proposal.

See the full story in Wednesday’s Daily Journal.