Miranda Beard

Miranda Beard talks to the Laurel City Council during the Citizens’ Forum. 

(Photo by Mark Thornton)

Ex-newscaster calls out city  over poor streets

A longtime former local TV news personality called out the Laurel City Council about the conditions of the roads at Tuesday night’s meeting.

Miranda Beard was speaking as a citizen, not a reporter, when she said that the roads around her home are “atrocious at this time.” Every time it rains, asphalt that was used to patch potholes “washes away” and the problem “gets worse by the day,” she said. Because of that, the “money that is spent on patchwork is being wasted,” she said.

Beard said she and other residents who live near her on Clairmont Circle, in North Laurel, are concerned about declining property values and she said new people don’t want to move to the area “because of the disrepair” of the streets.

“I’ve lived in the city for 33 years, and I’ve never seen the streets look like they look now,” said Beard, who worked for WDAM for 30 years. “I’m speaking on behalf of the citizens who vote and pay taxes. I’m not a complainer, but I am concerned.

“I realize that a lot of things are happening downtown,” she said, “but we’re asking that you don’t forget the citizens to the north. We’re concerned about the streets in the north part of the city, too.”

By policy, council members do not take action or respond to anything that’s said in the Citizens’ Forum, but council President Tony Thaxton did say, “Your concerns are heard. We know the streets are in need of repair.”

In January, Mayor Johnny Magee put out a comprehensive response to critics of local streets and a plan for paving Laurel streets. It was printed in the Leader-Call. He said, in part, that it costs $500,000 to pave one mile, and that’s just the cost of the asphalt, not the work on water and sewer lines that run under the streets and are having to be replaced, too. The city has 340 miles of streets.

“I agree that there are many streets in Laurel that need attention, but not ‘every’ street is horrible,” Magee wrote. “Over the last few years, we have spent millions of dollars on resurfacing streets, and I know that if you ride down a particular street daily or live on a particular street that has not been resurfaced, then it definitely seems worse than it may be.”

The major project on 5th and 13th avenues is $5.25 million for utility work alone, Magee wrote. That project is expected to be complete this fall.

“The city has a plan,” Magee wrote. “The mayor recommended and city council passed a 4-mil ad valorem increase dedicated to street improvements that will generate approximately $650,000 per year.”

A five-year plan for street paving is also being prepared by engineers to “let science and technology” identify which streets are in greatest need of being overlaid, Magee wrote. That plan is expected to be complete this spring.

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