‘I’ve never seen roads in such disrepair’: No timeline when Old Canton Rd will reopen to traffic

A vehicle navigates a utility cut divot along Hawthorn Drive in Fondren.
A vehicle navigates a utility cut divot along Hawthorn Drive in Fondren.(Rebecca Garrison)
Published: Aug. 4, 2022 at 3:15 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - UPDATE: Crews were on Hawthorn Drive Friday making repairs to the street, the day after this report first ran. The original story is shown below.

Marie Estes has only lived on Hawthorn Drive for a few weeks, but in that time she and her husband have become intimately familiar with Jackson’s road and water woes.

In July, shortly after moving in, a water line burst occurred on Old Canton Road behind their home.

And last week, another water line burst under Hawthorn just feet away from their driveway.

[Watch a video of vehicles trying to navigate Hawthorn and Old Canton here.]

Now, the two are watching as Hawthorn is damaged by the increased traffic rerouted there while Old Canton remains closed.

“[The city] supposedly closed the road and in doing that, all the traffic began racing down [our road] nonstop, morning and night,” she said. “The road was already terrible to begin with... I’ve never seen roads in such disrepair.”

Weeks after a major water main burst along Old Canton, the street remains shut down between Hawthorn and Avondale Street, south of Meadowbrook Road.

Meanwhile, northbound traffic has been diverted to Hawthorn, causing additional wear and tear on that road.

Many cars turning down Hawthorn are having to turn around and go back because of a divot in the road caused by a utility cut there.

A utility cut occurs when crews have to dig up a portion of a street to make a water or sewer line repair underneath. The work area is filled in with dirt, but the cut remains until it is paved over.

Video provided to WLBT shows dozens of vehicles attempting to turn around on Hawthorn because they’re unable to drive over the cut without damaging their vehicles.

Public Works officials say they were unaware of the problem on Hawthorn and say there’s no timeline on when Old Canton would be reopened.

Part of the problem is the damage caused to the street and the street bed by the July water line break.

The pipe burst on the afternoon of July 13. The break caused a cascade of water to flow down the busy roadway, just in time for rush-hour traffic.

The break was fixed in a matter of hours, but the road has since been blocked off for weeks now by orange cones.

Fondren residents are frustrated not only by the road being closed but by the fact that the city has provided little information on when it would be repaired.

“No one can get any information from the city,” said Rebecca Garrison, executive director of the Fondren Renaissance Foundation. “Our requests for information just go ignored, which doesn’t lead us to have a lot of confidence that anything is being done.”

Ward 7 Councilwoman Virgi Lindsay has similar concerns. “I asked about it in work session [Monday] and essentially got a non-answer,” she said.

She said Public Works told her that the scope of the project and its costs were still being assessed. The city also doesn’t know how the repairs would be funded.

“[They] know it will require an outside contractor, so they have to identify where the funding comes from,” Lindsay said.

Garrison said that if the city delays much longer, Hawthorn will continue to deteriorate.

Due to the utility cut, Estes says she and her husband now go another way to get home.

Others have avoided Hawthorn by moving the orange barrels blocking Old Canton, something else also evidenced by videos shared with 3 On Your Side.

“Pretty soon, probably by next week, Hawthorn is not going to be an option,” Garrison said. “This is a major concern for Fondren residents.”

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