• Improved safety highlights projects in MDOT’s District One

    “The Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) has announced updates to several infrastructure improvement projects in the Northern Transportation District,” said Commissioner Mike Tagert. “The projects are located throughout District 1, including Monroe, Oktibbeha and Pontotoc counties, in the northeastern portion of the state and will greatly improve safety and mobility in the region.”

    Highway 12 Safety Improvements in Oktibbeha County

    MDOT has awarded a contract for a safety improvement project along the Highway 12 corridor in Starkville. The project is divided into two phases. The first phase will begin approximately one-quarter mile west of New Light Road and end at Eckford Drive. Phase two will begin at Eckford Drive and extend to Russell Street.

    This safety improvement project will remove the existing center turn lane along Highway 12 and replace it with a raised curb median. The traffic signals along Highway 12 will be replaced, and a new signal will be added in front of the Kroger. In addition, existing asphalt will be removed throughout the project and replaced with new asphalt, and the intersections of Stark Road, Industrial Park Road and Louisville Street will be widened.

    “The benefits of raised medians are numerous,” said MDOT District 1 Engineer Mark Holley. “Corridor traffic safety is increased by eliminating the number of potential collision points. Traffic flow is improved with the use of strategic median openings and traffic signal timing; and, there is also a reduced risk to city assets, such as law enforcement and other emergency responders.”

    Research shows that replacing continuous two-way left turn lanes with a raised median can, on average, reduce angle crashes by 36 percent, sideswipe crashes by 21 percent, rear-end crashes by 19 percent and head-on crashes by 47 percent.

    “In 2015 there were 322 crashes along the Highway 12 corridor through Starkville, giving it one of the highest traffic incident rates of any state-maintained highway north of Jackson,” Tagert said. “This project will greatly improve the safety of the corridor for students, residents and visitors to the area.”

    Other major projects in MDOT’s District 1 include the following.

    • Districtwide Intersection Improvement Project – This project will address approximately 100 intersections throughout the 16 counties in District 1. The intersections included in this project have seen higher numbers of traffic crashes over the last five years, according to crash report history from the Mississippi Department of Public Safety. The project will consist of signing, striping, delineation and warning improvements. Each new treatment was recommended by MDOT’s Traffic Engineering Division based on the crash history and traffic volume of the specific intersection in compliance with today’s standards.
    • New State Route 25 in Monroe County – Construction on the new two-lane section from just south of Becker to U.S. Highway 278 in Amory is scheduled for completion this summer. The majority of asphalt work has been completed, and the remaining work consists of placing new signs, striping and tying the new road into existing roads. MDOT has developed plans for two other sections north of U.S. Highway 278 in Amory; however, due to the current lack of available funding, there is no timeline for when construction on these additional sections will begin.
    • State Route 15 in Pontotoc County – Construction on the new lanes and bridges of State Route 15 from State Route 76 to the Union County line is scheduled for completion in late fall 2017. Construction of the new bridge over the Tanglefoot Trail is complete with the exception of adding handrails. Traffic impact will be minimal during the final stages of construction. A separate paving project is scheduled to take place once dirt work and bridge construction is complete, and MDOT anticipates this project to be let in late fall 2017.

    Construction zones present new traffic patterns and configurations that can cause confusion to some motorists. For information about how to navigate highway work zones safely, visit GoMDOT.com/drivesmartms.

    For more information about these or other MDOT construction projects, visit MDOTtraffic.com, call Mississippi 511, download the free MDOT Traffic app or like and follow @MississippiDOT on Facebook and Twitter.

  • MDOT Enforcement Officers Continue Human Trafficking Training

    In continuing the fight against the increasing issue that is human trafficking, Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) Enforcement Officers statewide recently participated in a human trafficking training led by Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) officials.

    Separate trainings were held in each of MDOT’s six districts to further teach officers how to identify and police potential human trafficking on state highways and at weigh stations. Officers were trained on ways to approach potential victims, what type of questions to ask them and what type of indicators to look for. Others items such as human trafficking terminology and recent case studies were also covered at each training.

    “As this issue continues to grow across the nation, it’s imperative that MDOT partners with organizations such as TAT to stay updated with the latest information possible to help uncover victims in Mississippi,” said MDOT Executive Director Melinda McGrath. “These trainings offered a unique perspective that our officers really responded to and will greatly benefit from as we continue this fight against human trafficking.”

    In 2016 alone, the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) reported 40 cases of some form of human trafficking in Mississippi. Although many victims are not in one place long enough to form social connections, they are often transported throughout the country in commercial motor vehicles. Since 2007, the NHTRC has reported over 150 cases of some form of human trafficking in Mississippi.

    “Behind drug dealing, human trafficking is the fastest growing and most profitable criminal enterprise right now,” said Chief Willie Huff, MDOT Office of Enforcement director. “MDOT recognizes that members of the trucking industry are an invaluable asset in the fight against human trafficking and we want to make sure all of our officers know what to look for when encountering potential human trafficking situations.”

    MDOT is one of many agencies across the state and country that is recognizing January as Human Trafficking Awareness Month. Since 2015, in coordination with Gov. Phil Bryant’s Human Trafficking Task Force, all MDOT Enforcement Officers have been trained on how to identify and police human trafficking.

    “Training the MDOT Enforcement Officers was one of the most productive and enjoyable experiences I’ve had with TAT,” said TAT Deputy Director Kylla Lanier. “The officers were eager to learn the information and apply it to their work. We’re excited about our deepened relationship with Mississippi law enforcement and stand side by side with MDOT in their commitment to combat this heinous crime.”

    MDOT Officers were also given a unique perspective inside the ugly world of human trafficking. Beth Jacobs, a TAT field trainer and survivor leader, spoke about her personal experiences in human trafficking after being a victim for six years.

    “The response to Ms. Jacobs’ story was incredible and the questions the officers asked enabled us to dig deeper into some of the issues that impact a victim’s fear of asking for help,” Lanier said.

    Human trafficking affects individuals across the world and is commonly regarded as one of the most pressing human rights issues today. Traffickers use force, fraud or coercion to control victims for the purpose of engaging in commercial sex acts or labor services against his/her will.

    To report information about a potential trafficking situation, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline toll-free at 1-888-373-7888. Anti-Trafficking Hotline Advocates are available 24/7 to take reports of potential human trafficking. Anonymous tips can also be submitted online at www.humantraffickinghotline.org or by emailing help@humantraffickinghotline.org. Participate in the discussion on social media by using the hashtag #endtrafficking.