Oktibbeha County resident Peggy Rogers addresses the Board of Supervisors at their Monday morning meeting to advocate for the paving of Longview Road. Rogers lives and runs a business on Longview and described the road as "dusty, dirty" and a "problem for residents." Photo by: India Yarborough/Dispatch Staff
July 3, 2018 10:12:13 AM
In Oktibbeha County, just southwest of Starkville, sits a "dusty, dirty road."
That's how county residents living on Longview Road described the more than four-mile stretch of dirt and gravel connecting Highway 12 to Old Highway 25.
"People can't see because it's so dusty," said Longview resident Peggy Robertson. "It could cause an accident.
"When you have children going to the school bus and they're standing out there," she added, "by the time they get on the bus they're white because it's so dusty."
Robertson and nearly 10 others spoke at Monday morning's Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors meeting held in the chancery courthouse. They stood before the board to request it "find a way" to get Longview Road paved.
"We are very disappointed, very upset that this road has caused so many problems for our people and the people of Oktibbeha County," said county resident Peggy Rogers, who lives and runs a bed and breakfast on Longview.
"This is a major thoroughfare from Highway 12 to 25," Rogers said. "People coming from Sturgis cut through to get to 25, rather than go all the way around. And as (Judge Larnzy Carpenter) told you this morning, he has to go around town to get home to his area in District 4, rather than just go right down the road."
According to previous reporting by The Dispatch, Carpenter was involved in a car accident at the intersection of Longview Road and Highway 25 in January 2017. The Dispatch has reported at least four other serious car accidents in the past eight years that occurred at the same intersection.
Paving Longview is a project for which Rogers said she has been advocating for years -- a quarter-century to be exact.
"Speaking at a public hearing 25 years ago, we spoke of this project," Rogers said. "At that time, money was earmarked for Longview Road (west of Highway 25), to pair that road with (Highway) 12 and all the way across to where the horse park is (on Poorhouse Road, east of Highway 25).
"From 25 to the horse park, that road was paved," she added. "Longview Road was not."
District 1 Supervisor John Montgomery and District 4 Supervisor Bricklee Miller share governance of Longview Road, as the road separates their districts in the county.
According to Montgomery, the county fought for money to pave the road, but funds originally dedicated to the paving project were not allocated as expected.
"The money that was to be allocated for Longview Road," Montgomery said, "went to the southern bypass by Mississippi State, the Hail State Boulevard."
Montgomery said paving Longview Road is a roughly $5,367,000 project and must be done all at once. He said because the road connects two state highways, projects on Longview qualify for state and federal aid.
In 2006, Montgomery added, Oktibbeha County officials were promised money from the Mississippi Department of Transportation. That money, he said, was a portion of nearly $13.75 million the state earmarked for a southern bypass project. That money was to be shared by Oktibbeha County and MSU, he said.
Instead, he added, Mississippi State ended up with control of the full amount.
"I don't understand why that happened, but it just did," Montgomery said.
According to Montgomery, the Board of Supervisors has applied for federal aid -- money he said is necessary to pay for the Longview Project -- through the Federal-aid Highway Program.
Montgomery said if the county were awarded money from the federal level, the U.S. Department of Transportation would pay for 80 percent of the more than $5 million Longview Project. The county would provide the remaining 20 percent from state aid dollars.
"This term the county was prepared to put up their 20 percent, but no federal aid has been provided," Montgomery said.
Miller said if the county's state aid, which has thus far been held for a potential Longview project, is not used during this term, Oktibbeha loses its ability to use the state aid. The term ends in November 2019.
"The (Longview) project is still a top priority, and it's not going to lose its position," Miller said. "However, if we do not reallocate those state aid dollars, we will lose them during this term.
"The project is so large," she added, "we have to have federal dollars to help pay for it."
At the end of Monday's meeting, the board scheduled a July 16 meeting for 5:30 p.m. to discuss Longview Road.
Rogers said she plans to attend.
"We're hoping they will do something with the paving of the road this year," she added. "I do want to thank the board for allowing us to talk about the situation."
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