By JB Clark/NEMS Daily Journal
SALTILLO – Improving congested city streets will be the topic of Monday’s special meeting called by the Saltillo Board of Aldermen.
Shane Hooper, Saltillo Transportation Enhancement Program committee chairman, presented the board with a list of 12 areas in Saltillo that could use improvement.
The list was compiled by 12 committee members, two selected by each alderman and two by the mayor.
Hooper said to generate the list, committee members compiled accident reports and traffic counts, then made personal observations.
“The thing that made (personal evaluations) so important was the committee member diversity,” Hooper said. “It allowed us to look at Saltillo in its entirety.”
Each member compiled a wish list for road improvements and then the lists were combined and ranked according to feasibility.
Hooper said the committee met with Fire Chief Mark Nowell to look at the roads from a first-responder standpoint and Lee County School District Superintendent Jimmy Weeks to talk about future school traffic.
County Supervisor Bobby Smith was consulted so they didn’t list projects the county was already considering.
“We did consider easements or the difficulty of obtaining easements,” Hooper said. “We know we don’t have $2 million to go buy property from individuals so feasibility was considered.”
An example Hooper mentioned was the number of easements the city would have to purchase to widen Cartwright Avenue.
“You’re talking about getting easements from 20 to 30 homeowners,” he said. “But when it was all said and done, we didn’t limit ourselves because of those problems. There are some things on the list we know would be difficult. It’s not up to the committee to determine what’s possible and what’s not.”
Monday, the board will discuss which projects to tackle first and what the costs and feasibility of the projects would be.
Residents will be asked to vote to approve or reject a special ad valorem tax levy sometime before August.
Alderman Mitchell Brazeal said the STEP program was modeled after Tupelo’s Major Thoroughfare Program, which has used a 10-mill tax for the past two decades to improve city roads.
Hooper said the committee is leaving what is done to ease congestion in the suggested areas up to the city and engineers but they are requesting each improvement include street lights, sidewalks and guttering.
The List of Improvements
These areas were identified by a citizens committee as areas for Saltillo street improvements:
• Highway 145 from Mobile Street to Hill Street
• Old Highway 45 from McDonald’s to Saltillo United Methodist Church
• The intersection of Cartwright Avenue and Mobile Street
• McDonald’s area; traffic congestion on Highway 145 from vehicles turning into McDonald’s
• Old Saltillo Road from Saltillo Elementary School to the intersection of Grover or Turner Industrial Park Road
• Euclatubba Road
• An access road on property from Saltillo High School to Euclatubba Road
• Intersection of Old Saltillo Road and Turner Industrial Park
• Pulltight Road
• Knight Drive at entrance area of Homeplace Nursing Home
• Sidewalks added on Mobile Street and Third Street
• Turner Industrial Road by Sportsplex