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Wed, 10/18/2023 - 00:00

An article written by Lee Frederick, P.E.

About the Author:  Lee Frederick is a licensed Professional Engineer and proudly serves as the State LPA Engineer at the  Mississippi Department of Transportation.

Lee Frederick, P.E.The question often arises, "What does LPA stand for?" It is a rather enigmatic acronym, seldom encountered unless one has experienced recent Federal Awards facilitating local infrastructure projects. We used some artificial intelligence (see article on AI written by Sarah Tracy in this newsletter), i.e., Siri, and asked what does the acronym LPA stand for?  Siri gave us everything from Lasting Power of Attorney to. . .Locally Preferred Alternative to. . .Local Planning Authority.  The last of which is somewhat close but still not quite there.

LPA in this instance stands for Local Public Agency. 

So naturally, this tidbit engenders yet another inquiry, "What constitutes a Local Public Agency?"

A valid query, as Local Public Agencies encompass a multitude of entities, including all 82 counties, 433 cities and towns, and some 19 villages (yes, they still exist in Mississippi), as well as Institutions of Higher Learning (Public Colleges and Universities), all located throughout the State of Mississippi.

In the State of Mississippi, LPA projects are facilitated through the LPA Division of the  Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT).  The LPA Division oversees the planning, design, and construction of LPA projects funded by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).  The LPA Division is comprised of the State LPA Engineer, Assistant LPA Engineer, and six (6) other esteemed staff members. The division is located in MDOT's Administration Building in downtown Jackson and is tasked with lending support to each of MDOT's six (6) District LPA Engineers. The District LPA engineers offer hands-on assistance across the state to local communities on federal infrastructure projects within their respective areas.

In a nutshell, as federal aid graces local projects via the FHWA, MDOT's LPA Division shoulders the responsibility of overseeing fund allocation.  However, of critical  note is the fact that the infrastructure projects belong to the LPAs and that they own the design and construction of their respective endeavors.  Nonetheless, LPA projects represent a collaborative process that includes a vast support network, featuring local governments, LPA consultants, and various MDOT Divisions offering expert guidance.

Within MDOT's LPA Division lies a rare privilege - the oversight of federal aid, from fund allocation to project completion. This Division actively assists the LPA throughout each phase of work, fostering a profound sense of pride.

For questions regarding the type of projects typically undertaken by LPAs or to learn more about ongoing projects or eligibility, please contact MDOT’s Public Affairs Division at 601-359-7074 or MDOT’s LPA Division at 601-359-7277.

MDOT LPA Leadership team

Some LPA projects from our local area have included:

The Lake Harbor Bridge Project, Ridgeland, MS:

Lake Harbor Bridge Project, Ridgeland, MS

This project was approximately $21,000,000.00 in Design, Right of Way, and Construction costs and provided a much-needed east west corridor for the City of Ridgeland.  The project included drainage improvements, pedestrian facilities, grade and bridge work.

The West County Line Road project, Jackson, MS:

West County Line Road Project, Jackson, MS

This project was funded through a TIGER Discretionary Grant , MPO Funding, and various Federal Earmarks, and the total project cost $19,000,000.00. This project provided for a new Railroad alignment and a grade separated Railroad crossing and allowed for better access to Tougaloo College from I-55.

Halls Avenue West in Hattiesburg, MS:

Halls Avenue West Project in Hattiesburg, MS

This project was funded through a BUILD discretionary grant that provided approximately $13,000,000.00 in Federal assistance with a total project cost of $26,000,000.00.  This project consisted of safety improvements by designing and constructing a new grade separated crossing of Halls Avenue West over an existing railroad line.  This project also provided pedestrian facilities and drainage improvements.