Oxford Commons road project heralds development

Oxford StockBy Errol Castens/Daily Journal

OXFORD – A road-connecting project that involves the Mississippi Department of Transportation, Lafayette County, the city of Oxford and private developers could be a hint of potential development at Oxford Commons.

David Blackburn asked the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors on Monday to give a general communication of intent to let him improve Road 2051, a dead-end road on the south side of State Highway 30 just east of its intersection with State Highway 7.

“We’re working on developing the whole Oxford Commons area,” he said. As part of an agreement with the city, landowners and developers agreed to connect a frontage road from Sisk Avenue to Highway 30, and the logical path is along 2051, Blackburn said.

“I said I would accept responsibility for improving that road up to city specifications,” he said, noting that would include gutters, curbs and lighting. He added that he would rebuild any parking that an adjacent child care center might lose to the road widening.

A twist is that MDOT still owns the road, which Blackburn and County Engineer Larry Britt agreed was an oversight from the 1970s, when the Highway 7 bypass was built. Under the proposal, the county would accept ownership of the road under improvement.

The frontage road would give a second point of ingress and egress for the 500-acre-plus development, which so far includes the Oxford Conference Center, one hotel and another under construction, an elementary school, a theater/entertainment complex scheduled for reopening next month, a high school slated to open in January and a fast food restaurant.

Board President Jeff Busby said he had no problem with the proposal. “It would alleviate a lot of that traffic on Sisk.”

Board attorney David O’Donnell said supervisors were not obligating themselves irreversibly by agreeing to the proposal.

“I think right now they’re just asking for an expression of specific intent,” he said. “We’ll have another hoop to jump through before we accept the road.”

errol.castens@journalinc.com