By Errol Castens
OXFORD – Drivers in west Oxford will have to endure a slow and dangerous intersection at Mississippi Highway 6 and Jackson Avenue for most of another two years, but they’ll see tangible progress early next year.
Mitch Turner, district engineer in Batesville for the Mississippi Department of Transportation, said the continuous-flow interchange (CFI) planned for the junction will be let for bid in January.
“Typically when we let a project in January, sometimes weather is really bad, so a notice to proceed is issued, and it would probably be sometime around March when construction begins,” Turner said.
Estimated at around $4 million in cost, the CFI depends on precisely orchestrated traffic signals and crossover lanes to move vehicles more efficiently and safely than the T-shaped intersection can now.
Drivers will encounter some inconvenience during construction, but Turner said it will be less than they might expect for a project of its scope.
“A lot of the work is going to be done outside the existing lanes,” he said. “I don’t have a good estimate on when the phases would hinder traffic, but it certainly wouldn’t be for the whole 18 months.”
The construction will mean two major projects with overlapping schedules on Highway 6 in Oxford; the Old Taylor Road bridge will be expanded to four lanes and have spaces added for pedestrians and bicyclists.
Another major highway project in the Oxford area is still several years away. Turner said actual construction on the four-laning of State Highway 7 between Belk Boulevard and the Highway 7/9W intersection is expected to begin in 2017. The work will also include a multi-level interchange to replace the present wreck-prone intersection.
“The right-of-way phase is in progress,” Turner said. Because of an unusually large number of individual tracts involved in the six-mile stretch of road, he said, the actual start date may be determined by court proceedings over contested properties.