Fortification Street to get $8.9M in ‘much-needed’ improvements

City officials and others turn the dirt during the groundbreaking to kick off the Fortification Improvement Project. PHOTO BY GAIL BROWN

City holds groundbreaking kickoff

By Gail M. Brown

Fortification Street, one of the corridors into  downtown Jackson from I-55, has long been considered one of the city’s worst streets.
On Wednesday, June 6, Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. announced the kickoff of $8.9 million in long-awaited improvements for the well-traveled street by motorists, business owners and residents of the Belhaven neighborhood area.
Johnson said getting to this point required the city working with the neighborhood. “We wanted to make sure that when we spent this money…that we had a project that people would be proud of and would buy into,” said Johnson. “This project has been a labor of love for members of this neighborhood and this area of the city. It has truly been a commitment of my administration. It   has been a process. It required us keeping our shoulders to the plow over these many years. I’m just so pleased that we had so many strong partners.”

City officials and others turn the dirt during the groundbreaking to kick off the Fortification Improvement Project. PHOTO BY GAIL BROWN

Plans to improve the street have been in the making for a decade or more. Securing the funding and other red tape had been hurdles to overcome according to the mayor.
Improvements will include new water and sewer lines, new sidewalks and re-surfacing of the street.
One doctor who practices in the area humorously said the street is so rough-sounding that when motorists travel over it, his patients think they hear an earthquake in the background when he is on the phone with them.
Neighbors and business owners are looking forward to an improved Fortification Street. “We are beyond excited,” Virgi Lindsay told The Mississippi Link. Lindsay, who is executive director of the Greater Belhaven Foundation, also said, “We started about 11 years ago with a vision and an idea that this street should be one that connects all of our neighborhoods from Belhaven to Farish Street. We thought it should be one that is a beautiful entrance to our capital city, so we wanted wider sidewalks, greenscape and decorative lighting. We knew all of that was possible. And the mayor was absolutely wonderful in embracing that vision.”
A number of federal, state and local officials were on hand for the groundbreaking, including Transportation Commissioner Dick Hall. “I think this is going to be a real plus for the neighborhood. It is going to make a big difference in calming the traffic. I am pleased to have a part in this project,” he said.
The street will remain open while improvements are being made. Work on the street is expected to last about 18 months.

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