Work on the Pearson Street levee began last week with heavy equipment clearing trees and scraping the ground for the flood control project.
The Pearson Street levee is a major line item in the $5 million bond issue passed by the city in 2019 and marks the first major project started from that bond issue. The city has spent funds for new sidewalks on Madison and Desoto Avenue and drainage issues on Sasse Street.
More than 50 people gathered in March for a ceremony to mark the beginning of plans to throw up a levee around the Pearson Street neighborhood that was flooded in March 2016. The flooding was a catalyst for seeking funding and grew into the 2019 bond issue that was promises improvement around the city.
The work this week has both city and county equipment clearing the property.
Millicent Dixon, the city’s grant writer, in March the environmental work and engineering work has been done and most importantly the money has been approved for this project.
The Pearson Street project has a $1.4 million price tag and will see a levee built around the neighborhood. The project also included pumps on both ends of the C-shaped levee to push water into the Sunflower River. The project also has significant drainage and culvert work to help drain the neighborhood.
More than 230 people live in the Pearson Street neighborhood.
The city voted to accept the bid of Brocato Construction Company from Batesville in the amount of $790,064.18 to begin work prepping the site. The next step will be to haul in dirt and build the levee.
The city also hosted a ceremony for the Sasse Street project in March.
The Sasse Street project is different in that the water has nowhere to go after heavy rains. The city is clearing of ditches and putting in culverts around the area to drain the neighborhood.
Most of the Mississippi Delta is classified as flood plains and the building of houses in those areas is carefully monitored. The building of any structure in a flood plain or wetland also requires approval from the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Both projects are part of a $5 million bond issue passed in 2019 that has the city to improve infrastructure and alleviate flooding and drainage issue.
While the city has begun preliminary work on the flooding and drainage issues, they have completed a new sidewalk on Madison that stretches from State Street to Martin Luther King Boulevard and the Desoto Avenue project that stretches from State Street to the railroad underpass near MLK Boulevard.
Clarksdale residents voted in favor of a $5 million bond referendum that would fix flooding problems and improve infrastructure in a 2019 special election.
Projects the city listed in seeking the bond issue include:
1. Replace Second Street Bridge: $3,800,000.
2. Sasse Street drainage: $800,000.
3. Pearson Street levee and/or pump: $2,025,000
4. Sidewalks/Lighting: $1.1 million.
5. Street rehabilitation: $500,000.
6. Friars Point Road Bridge: $3,600,000.
Projects are listed by priority as stated by the Mayor and Board of Commissioners and Friars Point bridge would be added if funds become available through possible grants.
The city had initially hoped to leverage the bond money with state and federal dollars and do more.