FLOWOOD, Miss (WJTV) - Flowood Mayor Gary Rhoads says the controversy over a $2M road project to a subdivision where Lt. Governor Tate Reeves resides is politically manufactured.
The project in question is an access road just off Lakeland into a subdivision where Reeves resides just behind the Dogwood Shopping area.
Accusations of Reeves using political influence to pressure local leaders arose recently. According to an AP report, MDOT Executive Director Melinda McGrath told the Clarion Ledger her agency would not have otherwise constructed the road.
In an interview with WJTV, Mayor Rhoads says the project has been in the works for some time and any controversy is strictly political in nature.
"The City was dealing with these two subdivisions as far back as 2012 before Lakeland even talked about widening the road. It's sad we're a year out from an election and people want to make this political. I've never talked to Tate Reeves about the Frontage Road. But we (the City and MDOT) talked a million times about widening Lakeland. We're 50th because people have a tendency to shoot each other in the back. My deal isn't about who lives where, it's about safety. There's no reason to stop this project. This is really not right, he (Lt. Governor Reeves) has NEVER talked to me about this project."
Mayor Gary Rhoads
City of Flowood
Reeves Spokeswoman Laura Hipp says the situation is overblown.
“He has not spoken to anyone at the agency regarding the Frontage Road and believes that was negotiated between the City of Flowood and MDOT. He does support the Frontage Road as a safe alternative since a red light was not viewed by MDOT as a good option. He appreciates city leaders for many years of work on this entire project.”
According to a spokesperson with MDOT, Transportation Commissioner Dick Hall has temporarily stopped work on the project until the issue can be sorted out. Hall is expected to talk with the media Wednesday morning.
WJTV will bring you the latest on this story as information becomes available.
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