"We have not abandoned the project; we have not run out of money," Riley said.
Precinct 2 is using funds remaining from its allocation of the county's 2015 mobility bond to widen Nichols Sawmill from two to four lanes with a center turn lane, he said. Remaining funds from the bond total about $4.5 million, of which about $2 million has been spent so far on the Nichols Sawmill widening, and another $1 million is reserved for widening the bridge as part of the project.
"That's the first phase. Then we'll stop; we'll check our monies again, see if there's anything else that's come up [in the precinct] that we need to maybe switch gears and do something different, but if there's not, we'll go as far as we can back down towards the city limits of Magnolia," Riley said. "We'll just keep going until we don't have any bond money left or we have to slow down until we have to start paying for some of this out of our own budget."
Although the bridge on Nichols Sawmill will be widened, Riley said he does not anticipate a full closure of the roadway or the bridge being torn down. Plans are still in design for how the bridge will be added onto, he said, but drivers may see travel delays during construction.
Riley said Jan. 28 he anticipates work will resume fully on the Phase 1 widening in the next few weeks once the contracting company is operating fully again.
"What we're trying to do now is at least get up to the city limits of Magnolia, because then we're going to have some help from the city of Magnolia," he said.
Riley said Precinct 2 will need to work with city officials to obtain necessary right of way for continuing the widening up to FM 1774.
"If we can get it up to the city limits of Magnolia, that would be a tremendous help for the folks headed out of town, headed back south or even coming back into town," he said.