By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Mississippi Department of Transportation District 2 Engineer Richard Allen said in a letter that MDOT is “moving forward” with the plan to build roundabouts to ease traffic at the Old Taylor Road intersection with Highway 6.
Oxford won a $499,915 earmark for the project, and MDOT will administer those funds and furnish the remainder of the approximately $2 million cost.
The city, however, has two reservations about the project. One is that, as valuable as the roundabouts may be for traffic flow on Old Taylor Road, city officials believe two projects that have been in the works even longer – the deadly intersection of Jackson Avenue and Highway 6 and a road connecting West Oxford Loop with Old Sardis Road – should come first.
“We think the order of priority is the intersection for safety, the north road and then the roundabouts,” Patterson said.
Another concern is the cost of a possible pedestrian bridge with the Old Taylor Road project.
“There are federal requirements that new construction projects address access for pedestrians and (Americans with Disabilities Act) access,” said Reanna Mayoral, Oxford’s assistant city engineer.
“MDOT’s asked us to apply for a grant,” Patterson said. “It’s an 80/20 match, and that bridge is going to cost $1 million to $1,400,000. We’re going to be responsible for $200,000 to $300,000.”
Patterson said it seems logical that the University of Mississippi pay that match, given that Old Taylor Road is a major route for student commuters.
“We need the roundabouts, but it benefits them directly,” he said.
Dr. Andy Mullins, chief of staff to Chancellor Dan Jones and the university’s liaison with MDOT, said Ole Miss has made no commitments to share in the pedestrian bridge but that he and Patterson will likely discuss the issue today.
Reanna Mayoral said no schedule has been set to start construction.