Jackson city Councilman Kenny Stokes said at the city council meeting that the city’s legal department could find no record of the city council approving the 1987 deal for MDOT to delegate maintenance of the road to the city.
Stokes, who represents Ward 3, said if the item wasn’t placed on the city council’s agenda in 1987 and approved, the transfer wasn’t legally valid.
According to maps, U.S. 49’s route merges with Interstate 20 westbound in Richland and follows Interstate 220 north before resuming its northwest route at Medgar Evers Boulevard north of the interchange.
Medgar Evers Boulevard isn’t marked as U.S. 49 south of the I-220 interchange.
“I’m real concerned how the 49 highway in Rankin County can get over a hundred million dollars for the stretch from Richland to Flowood and it’s not even going to the school, Piney Woods,” Stokes said. “This is the gateway, the 49 highway, Medgar Evers Boulevard, to hospitals.
“This is a sweetheart deal in Rankin County and you have a duty not to discriminate with federal funds. We’re also going to ask the U.S. Congress to get involved.”
MDOT is spending $150 million to repair and expand U.S. Highway 49 between Richland and Florence, with a completion date set for next year. The project will expand the heavily-traveled highway to six lanes between the two Rankin County cities with new culverts, curbs and bridges.
According to MDOT traffic counts, some of the intersections on 49 between Richland and Florence average about 42,000 vehicles per day.
The possible lawsuit was also supported by City Councilman Aaron Banks, who represents Ward 6
“If that agreement wasn’t executed right, then the state should be on the hook,” Banks said.
Mayor Chokwe Lumumba said at the meeting that the city’s 1 percent infrastructure sales tax is going to fund a repaving project on Medgar Evers Boulevard.