By JB Clark/NEMS Daily Journal
SALTILLO – Aldermen picked their top priorities for road improvements Monday night, choosing projects that seemed most feasible and beneficial from the Saltillo Transportation Enhancement Program list.
They hope to present a proposal to city voters this summer as STEP’s first phase.
The board’s first priority is to address the congestion at the intersection of Cartwright and Mobile streets near downtown Saltillo.
Priority 2 will look at Old Highway 45 from McDonald’s to the Saltillo United Methodist Church.
Shane Hooper, chairman of STEP, said this road will lead to future Lee County School development.
The board decided, as part of expanding the road, they would like to look at congestion caused by traffic turning from Highway 145 to Old Highway 45 and then into McDonald’s.
The third priority is to look at congestion along Highway 145 from Mobile Street to Hill Street caused by school traffic.
The improvement between Hill and Mobile streets was listed as the top priority by the STEP committee.
Mayor Bill Williams said he spoke with Northern District Transportation Commissioner Mike Tagert who said MDOT is commissioning a traffic study for the congestion caused by school traffic along Highway 145.
Since the Mississippi Department of Transportation has commissioned a traffic study for that area, the board decided to wait and see what MDOT is going to do.
The three areas of focus will be given to Randy Hathcock of Engineering Solutions Incorporated. The board is asking ESI to look at the problem areas and estimate the cost of the best solution.
Hathcock told the board he would try to have a rough cost estimate submitted by May 1, or May 15 at the latest.
Once the estimate is submitted, the board will pass a resolution to set a date for a referendum where citizens will have the option to vote on an ad valorem tax increase to fund the road improvements. The concept is modeled on Tupelo’s Major Thoroughfare Program.
The STEP preliminary timeline sets the referendum date for June 12.