City eyes ‘infrastructure milestone’ improvements

By BUSTER WOLFE,

Hattiesburg’s Ward 5 residents in the Palmer’s Crossing and Irene Chapel neighborhoods will be enjoying stronger water flows in the next few months after Mayor Toby Barker announced an “infrastructure milestone” in the area.

Speaking from Dewitt Sullivan Park in Ward 5, Barker said some of the largest asbestos cement water lines in the neighborhoods would be replaced at a cost of $2 million.

“Beginning in late November or early December, crews will begin working to replace many of the asbestos cement lines with new lines,” he said. “This $2 million will increase both pressure and volume to increase fire protection and water flow for the residents of these two neighborhoods.”

The project is part of the Community Sewer and Water Improvement Program that has been in action for the past several years. Residents in the two neighborhoods said the pipes are more than 50 years old.

“The water lines that are slated to be replaced along Dixie Pine Road, Barkley Road, Chancellor Road, North Airport Road, McCall Road or others are often the lines that feed into other streets in these two neighborhoods,” Barker said. “This represents a renewed effort to start addressing the aging infrastructure needs in parts of South Hattiesburg, needs that have existed since they were both annexed back in the ’80s and ’90s.”

Barker said the money for the project comes from funding that was originally slated to pay for the new wastewater treatment facility.

 “However, with our lagoons now meeting permit requirements and our recent settlement with Gulf Restoration Network (for $150 million), this money can now be shifted toward projects such as this to address infrastructure needs that are already under our streets,” he said.

Ward 5 Councilman Nicholas Brown, who had campaigned this year for the infrastructure improvements, said he was glad to see action on the water lines.

“This new infrastructure upgrade is a big step forward for our neighborhoods and the future generations to come,” he said. “This is very important for me with water being an essential part of our lives. I think it is very nice to make this upgrade with 20 percent (of the water lines); it’s a nice start, but we want to get to 100 percent over time. It is something that has needed to be done for awhile and I am happy to make a move on it.”