HomeBusinessQuestions need answers early in Pope School construction process

Questions need answers early in Pope School construction process

As the planning and preparation for the construction of the new Pope School is ongoing, Cary Henson of Henson Construction met with Jackson-Madison County School Board’s capital committee.

Henson was there to update the committee on how things are going in the design phase and also bring results from the traffic study done by the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA), and the project is in need of communication between the City of Jackson and the school district leadership as far as what to do next and who’s funding some of those needed steps.

Coming out of discussions with the BZA, the City sees a need for a roundabout at the corner of Ashport Road, which is where new Pope will be, and Pleasant Plains Road, which is near the property where the school will be and directly across from where a subdivision is in plans to be developed next to the school.

The BZA also recommended with the City’s support a turn lane to be added to Ashport Road/Old Humboldt Road intersection where Pope’s building is now and the extension of the turn lane on Old Humboldt Road at the Highway 45 Bypass.

Henson reviewed the budget for the project at the beginning of his presentation, stating that $500,000 had been earmarked for offsite improvements (like adding a turn lane to Ashport Road), but these adjustments, which would currently be charged to the school system, would cost more than $2.5 million.

Members of the committee in their discussion began asking questions about the suggested plans.

Board member Jason Compton asked if the roundabout is the most cost-effective option for that intersection. While Henson didn’t answer that question directly, he did say he went back to check on the price of the roundabout in Downtown Jackson at the intersection of North Highland Avenue and Deadrick Street, which was $1.2 million.

Henson also brought up a number of unknowns about infrastructure and what underground lines – water, fiber, electricity, etc. – would potentially have to be relocated before the infrastructure for the school could be installed.

Compton also brought up the notion that the subdivision next door has plans to put in its own infrastructure, and he asked if there’s any cooperation between the developer, Jerry Winberry, so that when one entity installs its infrastructure, it won’t have to be adjusted when the next one puts their infrastructure in. That conversation hasn’t happened either.

That part of the meeting concluded with plans to invite a representative of the City and Madison County Commission budget committee chairman Carl Alexander to their next meeting on Feb. 22 to figure out how to proceed quickly as Henson said the project is already getting held up that could affect the school building being done for its projected opening in August of 2025.

Other items from the meeting:

The committee heard from Michael Eldridge of FSB Insurance of the possible actions to take regarding insurance claims associated with multiple buildings with roof damage causing more damage because of leaks in those roofs.

The committee also had a conversation with Chris Rice of Crocker Construction as that business begins the planning work of renovating Oman Arena. Compton and Assistant Superintendent Ricky Catlett both discussed conversations held last week during the Hub City Central vision committee last week.

The conversation landed on the district will get a list of things they’d like to see done at Oman to Crocker, and Crocker will bring back how much each of those items will cost. The two will then discuss together what should be done after that, especially with the $12 million of ESSER funds budgeted that need to be spent by September of 2024.

Brandon Shields, brandon@jacksonpost.news

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