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Repairs finished, major road to Quitman Junior High ready to re-open

By By Steve Swogetinsky/The Meridian Star
Feb. 4, 2001
QUITMAN The inconvenience of neighborhood traffic congestion is about to change here as a major road to Quitman Junior High School re-opens this week.
Closed since August when a broken culvert caused the road to begin sinking, the Harris Avenue Extension  one of two main connections to the school has been repaired.
That's good news to principal Patricia Green.
Teachers, staff and 620 students travel to-and-from Quitman Junior High each week day. This school is accessed by two streets, Shirley Drive, which travels through a neighborhood, and, Harris Avenue Extension, which goes through the industrial park. The school buses, 35 in all, come and go between 7:15 and 8 a.m., delivering students.
In the afternoon, the buses begin their routes at the junior high. After picking up their riders, they travel across town in a train-like column to the school block on East Franklin Street to pick up elementary and high school students.
Until this year, all school bus traffic used the Harris Avenue Extension, while parents, for the most part, came in through Shirley Drive. With the closing of Harris, all traffic traveled via Shirley Drive.
When a culvert under Harris Avenue Extension gave way and the road began to sink, Quitman streets superintendent Billy Kemp warned the board of alderman it was going to be a big repair job. Digging the old culvert up and replacing it was beyond the resources of the town.
Engineers looked at the problem and the buses were allowed to continue using Harris Avenue through the end of the last school year. But the road continued to sink and the city decided it was best to close the road during the summer.
The total job cost around $130,000. Pooling the resources of the city ($36,300), Clarke County ($25,000), the Pat Harrison Waterways District ($12,500) and the Natural Resources Service through the Emergency Watershed Protection Program ($68,703), the road has been repaired.
The contractor was Dunn Roadbuilders of Laurel, which has a temporary asphalt plant in Quitman. City officials had hoped that the project would be finished by the end of the Christmas holidays, but bad weather set in. They were able to get back on the project two weeks ago. Late last week, crews were on site, putting up guard rails.
There has been some damage to neighborhood streets that took the extra bus traffic during the months Harris Avenue was closed. Kemp reports that the city has patched more than 100 holes.
Steve Swogetinsky is regional editor of The Meridian Star. E-mail him at