Hattiesburg, Mississippi — On Tuesday, August 22, 2023, the Hattiesburg City Council voted unanimously to rename East Hardy Street back to its original name of River Avenue, which impacts the roadway stretching between Williams Street and the Leaf River as it extends over the Leaf River Bridge into Petal.
The naming petition was championed by local businessman and attorney, Erik Lowery, stating, “The effect of the proposed change is to restore the proper and historical name back to the road which most residents of the area still refer to as River Road.”
“Last night’s unanimous vote from the City Council to return ‘East Hardy Street’ to its original ‘River Avenue’ demonstrates the role our residents, business owners and supporters can play in the process of policy change,” said Mayor Toby Barker. “Mr. Lowrey did the research, enlisted the support of stakeholders and then worked with the planning commission to make the case for the name change.”
The roadway changed from River Avenue to East Hardy Street in 1966 when a local business owner petitioned the change because he felt that the name did not reflect progress and he believed that an overpass would inevitably connect to the original Hardy Street.
With two new overpasses under construction (neither connecting to Hardy Street) and the notion that GPS programming has created issues over the years for local businesses, the petition ushered in full local support without any objection.
Barker added, “When added to the street’s nearly complete overlay study, the Hall Avenue East Overpass and the Hattiesburg-Petal bridge over the Leaf River, this change adds continued momentum to this area, ensuring that a neighborhood with a proud history will have an equally bright future.”
With passage, the new name “River Avenue” will go into effect within 30 days (effective September 22, 2023). Before then, the Forrest County Emergency Management District will handle adjusting the 911 system, make sure the address is changed in the U.S. Postal Office systems and notify all businesses and residents along this stretch of road.
The total number of structures and types that will be affected include one church, one city facility (Hattiesburg Fire Department Station #5), one residence and approximately 10 commercial business buildings.
The City of Hattiesburg’s Traffic Division will take care of all street signs, which will go up the day the change is set to take place.