Oxford, Lafayette to pursue road projects

county_lafayette_greenBy Errol Castens

Daily Journal

OXFORD – New perimeter roads – one project seriously sought for decades and the other proposals of more recent vintage – are getting a serious look from Oxford and Lafayette County officials.

Lafayette County supervisors voted Monday to pursue a jointly funded extension of West Oxford Loop from Anderson Road northeastward to Highway 314 near FNC Park and eventually to College Hill Road, along with a road from Sisk Avenue east of the new Oxford High School to State Highway 6/U.S. Highway 278 near Brittany Woods subdivision.

“I’d like you to authorize David O’Donnell and Pope Mallette to work on an interlocal agreement to have the city and county do this 50-50,” Oxford City Engineer Bart Robinson told supervisors. Despite at least a decade of negotiations, Mississippi Department of Transportation will not be a partner in the project.

Robinson said more than 85 percent of the 3.5-mile road, cost-estimated at roughly $10 million, would be outside city limits. As envisioned, it would be built comparable to Molly Barr Road – a two-lane thoroughfare with wide shoulders.

Landowners along the route, who presumably would benefit from new development potential, will be invited to donate land for the project.

“If it was not a situation where the right-of-way was donated, I don’t know that either of us could afford the project,” Robinson said.

The Sisk Avenue/Highway 6 connector would also connect to County Road 406, which will be extended this summer from near Lafayette High School to Highway 6.

“It’s part of both (city and county) transportation plans,” Robinson said. “It gives folks a loop on the east side of the county.”

Supervisor Mike Roberts said he preferred getting County Road 406 finished before taking on the Sisk project, but County Engineer Larry Britt and Robinson said it would simplify and cut costs if the designs were coordinated.

“The interlocal would allow us to move forward with the design,” Robinson said. “At best case it wouldn’t be in construction for a year.”

“We’ve got over 600 miles of roads in the county that need to be addressed,” Supervisor Mike Pickens objected. “I’m all for the city building it, but I’m not for using the county’s money to build a road in the city. … We’ve got our business to take care of, and they’ve got theirs.” Supervisor Robert Blackmon said he needed more information.

“We’ve got to quit kicking the can down the road for Lafayette County citizens,” Supervisor Chad McLarty said. “Bond rates are three percent now, so it’s a no-brainer to me.”

McLarty, Roberts and Supervisor Jeff Busby voted in favor of pursuing the second interlocal.

errol.castens@journalinc.com