The College Avenue bridge project is complete.
On Tuesday morning, representatives from both the county and the city stood on the smooth stretch of asphalt to cut a ribbon commemorating the project’s fruition.
It’s not every day that a few hundred feet of asphalt gets a ribbon cutting.
Aldermen Gary Fratesi, Marvin Elder, Sam Brock and Ruben Woods were present, as was Indianola Mayor Steve Rosenthal.
Sunflower County Board of Supervisors President Riley Rice represented the county, and Gardner Engineering’s Ron Cassada wasn’t going to miss the occasion either.
There wasn’t much of a crowd other than that due mostly to the pandemic.
But it really was a sight to behold.
The project has been in the works for over two decades, Rice and Rosenthal pointed out.
“This was in the planning when I was still on the city board,” Rice said, noting that was the 1990s.
The College Avenue bridge has been the source of both sneers and snickers from Indianola citizens over the past few years, especially since the street’s closure and the bridge’s collapse.
College Avenue, to many, has become a symbol of local leadership over that same time span.
Roadblocks, dead ends and gridlockhave become the norm in local government.
But that wasn’t the tone of Tuesday’s modest celebration.
At first, the project belonged to the city. Then it went to the county. Then back to the city again. And then back to the county.
It seemed like a lot of confusion and red tape, but that’s what it took to secure the proper funding for the street.
There were all kinds of issues with design, right-of-way and easements.
What used to be a bridge years ago is now a smooth street with a culvert underneath.
Everyone present on Tuesday would say they wanted a nice arched bridge to compliment the adjacent green space, but that wasn’t in the budget. Consider the aforementioned struggle to secure all the funding for what became the finished project.
The normally contentious mayor and board of aldermen were all smiles on Tuesday.
They joked about things. They made small talk. There were discussions about how they could possibly rid the bayou of duckweed and alligator weed.
It was quite a departure from what the citizens are used to seeing and hearing during board meetings.
It’s a shame the public wasn’t there to see it.
This group is capable of getting along, and it is capable of getting things done.
College Avenue, although belated in the eyes of the public, is a prime example of local entities working to get something accomplished for the good of the town.
Most city and county boards would want progressive projects like these to be their legacy.
To this point, this has not been the case for our current city board.
When the public is present, they shout, insult and make accusations toward one another.
It seems this is the preferred public image versus what only a few were able to see on Tuesday.
Indianola is a town of limited resources.
That’s evident in the fact that it took so long to repair and pave such a small stretch of street.
But many of our resources are wasted in the constant bickering and feuds between board members.
We need more moments like we had on Tuesday, only where the public can witness them.
It’s amazing the power of a small bridge.