Tue, 06/09/2015 – 11:14am by Anthony Warren
The Northside Sun

Construction on a project that Mayor Gene McGee calls a “game-changer” for the city of Ridgeland is expected to begin later this year.

Waggoner Engineering is about to wrap up the design work on the Lake Harbour Drive extension project. 

The $22 million to $23 million project calls for extending the heavily traveled roadway from U.S. 51 in Ridgeland to Highland Colony Parkway, just south of Christ Life Church of the Highlands, at 670 Highland Colony. “We are almost totally designed and already buying right-of-way,” McGee said. “It’s going to be a game-changer with what it will mean for the city.”

The project will give South Madison County another east-west corridor, as well as open many acres of land for development. 

McGee didn’t know exactly how many acres would be opened up, but said the project, once completed, would spur growth along Highland Colony Parkway. 

Much of the growth along Highland Colony so far has been north of Old Agency. “With this, we’ll see a lot of development south of Old Agency,” he said. “There’s a lot of acreage south of the roundabout.”

The project is being funded with a mix of federal, state and local dollars, including $1 million city officials believe Madison County had agreed to pay Ridgeland to widen an existing portion of Lake Harbour as part of a previous project. 

In a prior agreement Madison County agreed to provide $1.904 million as the county’s contribution for the Lake Harbour widening project, according to Mike Espy, attorney for the board of supervisors. That project constituted improvements on Lake Harbour, from Northpark Drive to U.S. Highway 51. “The county gave Ridgeland a check for around $904,000, and considered its effort(s) in the Mississippi Legislature, which generated $1 million in a state bond bill for Lake Harbour funding, as satisfaction for the balance,” Espy said. 

The city argued that the $1 million allocated by the Legislature was given to the city as a result of Ridgeland’s lobbying efforts, not the county’s efforts, and considered the county’s agreement to help cover the Lake Harbour costs unfulfilled. Last week, though, that issue was brought to an end. 

The Board of Supervisors and Ridgeland entered into an agreement calling for the county to contribute $1 million to the Lake Harbour extension project. 

“As part of the deal, both parties would be allowed to continue in their respective (beliefs) that the $1 million was generated as a result of their own actions,” Espy said.  “The county believes this continuation of (Lake Harbour) will inure to the benefit of the county due to the high probability of additional ad valorem revenue from development of this newly opened area,” he said. 

Once completed, the new section will be four lanes with a multipurpose trail, and will stretch between two and three miles from U.S. 51 to Highland Colony, McGee said. 

One of the most expensive parts of the project will include building a flyover bridge over I-55. Construction will take between 18 and 24 months to complete.

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