Parkway route suggested as ‘first step’

OXFORD – A route recommendation for the long-proposed Toby Tubby Parkway is only an initial step for a project that still might be years away from completion.
A Tupelo engineering firm recommended a route to the Lafayette Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. The road would link State Highways 6 and 7 around the northwest quadrant of Oxford.
A lack of funding, however, may keep actual construction several years in the future, even though city and county officials agree that “it should have been built 10 or 15 years ago.”
The study identified a route that incorporates West Oxford Loop, skirts the College Hill community and connects into Northpointe Parkway at the Lafayette County Industrial Park.
It would cut miles off the now-convoluted route to FNC Park, a new sports complex on Old Sardis Road, and to Sardis Lake.
“We have done enough studies to make a decision on what we think we need to do,” Robert Walker of Neel-Schaffer Engineering told the supervisors Tuesday. He recommended that the preferred alternative be so identified at a required public meeting.
Supervisors questioned the wisdom of routing new traffic onto West Oxford Loop, whose south end junctions with West Jackson Avenue.
Walker noted that that the Mississippi Department of Transportation had recently agreed to put a traffic light at the West Oxford Loop-Jackson Avenue intersection to move traffic funneling from businesses and a nearby subdivision.
“A red light’s not going to solve that problem when you add a lot more traffic,” District 1 Supervisor Mike Pickens said.
Asked why the parkway couldn’t connect with Highway 6 farther west, Bart Robinson, public works director for the city of Oxford, said it would duplicate the dangerous intersection at Jackson Avenue and Highway 6.
When supervisors inquired about the project’s funding, Walker answered flatly, “There is no money.”
Robinson explained that the just-completed study was a first step.
“The only logical step was to get the environmental document approved so we could approach the federal government,” he said.

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

Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal