Oxford-area transportation projects a go

By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal

OXFORD – A grudging truce among three entities gave way this week to progress on three long-delayed transportation projects in the Oxford area.
Officials from the city of Oxford and Lafayette County agreed on specifics for upgrading the intersection of Highway 6/278 and Jackson Avenue, extending West Oxford Loop to connect with Highway 314 and building roundabouts on Old Taylor Road at Highway 6/278.
Because they dropped two clauses from the memorandum of understanding as last approved by Mississippi Department of Transportation officials, the agreement will not be final until MDOT reapproves it.
The Jackson Avenue intersection is one of the busiest in Oxford and has been the scene of several fatalities. Motorists on two of its three approaches have to deal with other congested intersections immediately before reaching it.
Plans for its upgrade include improved signals and realignment designed to provide better visibility and more separation from another intersection nearby. Several years ago the proposed remedy was a full-fledged, limited-access interchange, but MDOT officials had rejected the idea because of its estimated cost of $40 million or more. Estimates for the current proposals were not available.
West Oxford Loop currently extends about a half-mile from Jackson Avenue to Anderson Road. Its original intent was to be the first leg of a proposed Toby Tubby Road to open up access to areas west and north of Oxford, eventually connecting Highway 6 West and Highway 7 North.
The more modest project approved Wednesday will extend the road two miles north to Highway 314 near the sports complex at FNC Park, at a cost that City Engineer Bart Robinson estimated at about $8 million.
Roundabouts at the Old Taylor Road interchange promise to ease rush-hour congestion at the University of Mississippi’s main entrance point from the four-lane east-west corridor of Highway 6/278 at an estimated cost of $1 million.
Supervisors were reluctant to contribute half of the cost of a $1 million pedestrian bridge but eventually agreed in the interest of public safety and to avoid further delays in the other projects.

Contact Errol Castens at (662) 281-1069 or errol.castens@journalinc.com.