Stores petition MDOT to delay downtown road project

SUMMIT — Merchants in Summit are protesting a plan to shut down a main downtown thoroughfare and disrupt Easter and Mother’s Day sales.

The Enterprise-Journal reports the merchants have asked the Mississippi Department of Transportation to delay the partial shutdown of Robb Street.

MDOT construction engineer Ken Morris says a contract has been signed and the start date is March 15.

Crews will remove a crumbling 8-by-94-foot culvert officials say is as old as the town itself. The actual street closure will take about six weeks of the estimated 4-1/2-month-long project.

“We already bid the job and let it, so we’ve got to abide by what we did,” said Morris.

The Summit Partnership and Chamber said the work could be moved to May and completed by the end of July. A July 29 completion date also would allow merchants to have better back to school sales, the organization said.

“The merchants cannot afford the loss of sales during the months before the summer months when business is usually slower,” its petition to MDOT says,

The merchants also say summer months are usually drier, and the project would be less likely delayed by weather then.

“I definitely feel that this work has waited almost a century, it could certainly wait until it’s not the height of retail season,” said Summit Partnership president Susan Gibbes.

Morris said a timeframe for the project shows the street closure may not happen until after Easter, which is April 8. However, crews likely will be in the throes of the work by Mother’s Day, he said.

Mayor Percy Robinson said he is hoping for a compromise but he said MDOT has put nearly a half-million dollars in infrastructure work into the heart of town and it “drives the train.”

Morris said a preconstruction conference between MDOT officials and Midway Construction of Roxie will take place in the next week or two, and officials will have a better gauge of when work will begin.

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