Mark Gardner Board President

District 2 Supervisor Mark Gardner was worn in as the new Board President on Tuesday. He swapped the president's gavel with District 5 Supervisor and outgoing Board President Michael Lee.

Tanner Kuntz|for the DTT

Long-awaited safety upgrades to flood-prone Holly Springs Road could be on the horizon, along with other road improvements, after being discussed in-depth at Tuesday's DeSoto County Board of Supervisors meeting.

Newly-sworn in Board of Supervisors President Mark Gardner said infrastructure will be a high priority with the board in 2018.

"Our biggest priority this year is roads," Gardner said. "We have talked with our consulting engineer Tracy Huffman about the Holly Springs Road project. We want to get the ball rolling on that."

Holly Springs Road has undergone major flooding for years and several proposed options have included widening, raising and straightening the road and the installation of two new bridges.

However, several of the options have proved to be expensive carrying a price tag of $15 to $20 million or higher.

Gardner said the first phase of the project might not be as cost prohibitive.

"What we're talking about in the first phase is working on the eastern end of the road and coming back and doing work on the western phase or Phase II," Gardner said.

An environmental impact study was performed several years ago and now that at least five years has elapsed, that process has to be re-evaluated, according to Huffman, who is an engineer with Waggoner Engineering.

"They (Board of Supervisors) authorized us to communicate with State Aid to begin the process to re-evaluate the environmental study to make sure things have not changed and that the general scope of the project is still the same," Huffman said.

Huffman said DeSoto County is looking at an $18 million proposed option of which DeSoto County would pay a still-to-be-determined amount and the federal government to pay an undetermined amount as well.

At Tuesday's board meeting, Gardner was sworn in as Board President for the second time in his six years on the Board.

"My first time in office I was vice president and in my second year I was president," Gardner said. "I have just finished my sixth year. I'm happy to serve the citizens of DeSoto County in that capacity."

Gardner said as I-269 is completed, a great deal more traffic will be coming into the county as well as new development.

"We're trying to get ready for that growth," Gardner said.

Gardner and outgoing Board President Michael Lee exchanged gavels at the outset of Tuesday's board meeting.

Gardner will serve as the board's representative on the Council of Governments in DeSoto County. Officials will be traveling to Jackson next week to meet with state lawmakers which convened the 2018 session of the Mississippi Legislature on Tuesday.

In April, Gardner and others will travel to Washington, D.C. for the annual Blue Ribbon trip in order to meet with federal officials.

Robert Lee Long is Community Editor of the DeSoto Times-Tribune. He may be contacted at rlong@desototimestribune.com or at 662-429-6397, Ext. 252.

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