Supes hope D.C. trip pays off

Staff Writer

They didn't bring back any checks, but they at least got the county some attention. At least that's what two Clay County supervisors told their fellow members about their recent trip to Washington D.C. to meet with the state's congressional delegation and staff and representatives of federal agencies.

"I feel like it was a very beneficial trip, very productive. We have some things that money has been taken away from and put on the shelf, and we were able to get those projects at least back in the line," District 3 Supervisor R.B. Davis said of the trip he and District 4 Supervisor Shelton Deanes took earlier this month. "Maybe we can get some things done down the road."

Deanes agreed, going through the $5 million wish list he and Davis pitched.

Those projects included paving Tibbee Road to improve the link between Clay and northwestern Lowndes County and work on a half-mile stretch of Lake Grove Road, $2 million to replace the 320-foot Cane Creek Bridge that has been condemned by a federal inspection, and major drainage work on Lyon Creek to prevent flooding of bordering property.

"We were able to tell them some things they didn't know, didn't understand," Deanes said of the staff members with whom they met. "I think it will make a difference."

The Cane Creek project is a prime example. The concrete bridge is built on steel pilings but the federal inspectors still condemned it, even though the county has never lowered the weight limit, a tactic many counties use to keep little-used bridges from being condemned as part of the controversial federal bridge inspection program.

"Senator Wicker said he was going to file legislation requiring them to come back and look at some of these bridges that meet certain conditions and get them reopened. We've got bridges out there on old wooden pilings that need to be closed, but some others don't need to be," Deanes said.

The Lyon Creek project was in line for money once before, but the funds got diverted to hurricane relief efforts. The county hopes it can get back into the pipeline based on the damage the flooding, some of which is caused by beaver dams, causes to nearby pastures and timber.

The timing of their trip was fortuitous because they were in the nation's capital the day President Donald Trump unveiled his national infrastructure initiative. Being in meetings with congressional staff helped label local projects that might fit into the President's vision, Davis said.