MDOT promises Oxford projects ‘closer’

By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal

OXFORD – In a sparsely attended open house on Tuesday, Mississippi Department of Transportation officials said three long-awaited highway projects in and near Oxford are progressing toward construction.
The first project likely to break ground is at Old Taylor Road’s interchange with Highway 6/278, where roundabouts will replace the stop signs that now govern traffic flow.
“It’ll be a double-lane roundabout. Because we’re adding that additional lane on the roundabouts, the bridge will have to be widened, and the bridge will accommodate the [pedestrian] crossing,” said Richard Allen, MDOT’s District 2 engineer.
Oxford City Engineer Bart Robinson said the “best case” scenario for the bridge, which is at a major entrance to the University of Mississippi, was to begin construction in 18 months, with another 18 months for completion.
“It’s possible we’ll be driving or walking across a four-lane bridge on Old Taylor Road this time in 2015,” he said.
MDOT is leaning toward a “continuous-flow intersection” for Jackson Avenue and Highway 6, Allen said. In such a design, turn lanes for eastbound traffic turning left onto Jackson Avenue would be rebuilt to cross westbound lanes with the aid of a stoplight well ahead of reaching the current intersection, and traffic waiting to turn eastbound onto Highway 6 would stop well north of the current intersection, which has seen several fatal crashes. Allen said the CFI would be both safer and faster for motorists.
Allen also promised action within a few years on the four-laning of Highway 7 from its intersection with Highway 9 West to Belk Drive. As currently designed, the expansion would provide a flyover for traffic going southbound from Highway 7 to 9 West, eliminating the stop-sign-regulated grade intersection that has been the site of many accidents, including multiple fatalities.
“It’s scheduled; we hope to start construction on it sometime in 2014 or 2015,” Allen said. Lafayette County resident Janet McBride wasn’t convinced.
“When we moved down here in 1972 they told us Highway 7 was going to be four-laned,” she said.
“Well, we’re closer now,” Allen said.
errol.castens@journalinc.com