• Improved safety focus of active projects in MDOT’s District 2

    Transportation Commissioner Mike Tagert has announced updates to several Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) projects in District 2.

    Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) Project in DeSoto County

    “DeSoto County is one of the fastest growing population centers in Mississippi,” Tagert said. “As the population increases, so does the number of vehicles on roadways. The CMAQ Project will positively affect travel times and traffic delays in the area.”

    Crews have installed four overhead Dynamic Message Sign (DMS) boards along Interstate 55, one along U.S. Highway 78 and an 80-foot camera pole on State Route 302. Remaining work involves installing all cable, conduit and fiber optics at each DMS location.

    The project is part of upgrading MDOT’s Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) and will give motorists advance warning of crashes, travel times to major intersections and other important messages. This project will have a significant impact on the traveling public’s daily commute. Studies show that this type of ITS upgrade can reduce traffic backups by as much as 20 percent.

    “This project will enhance MDOT’s ability to monitor and manage traffic,” said Tagert. “The new features will allow MDOT to not only increase information distributed to the traveling public, but also improve emergency response and incident clearance times.”

    The benefits of this type of project extend further than just improving the efficiency of our roadways. Projects of this nature can also have a major impact on our environment. The project will reduce travel times and traffic delays, therefore reducing the amount of time vehicles are on the roads. Shorter travel times results in fewer vehicle emissions. Fewer vehicle emissions means improved air quality in the area.

    District 2 Bridge Replacement Projects

    Because of the continued deterioration of Mississippi’s transportation infrastructure, MDOT has numerous ongoing bridge replacement projects throughout District 2.

    Along State Route 6 in Coahoma, Panola and Quitman counties, construction continues on the replacement of 11 bridges between Batesville and Clarksdale. Eight of these bridges are being replaced with new structures, one is being replaced with a new box bridge and two are being replaced with box culverts. Ten of the replacements are complete and open to traffic along the mainline of State Route 6. Additionally, two bridges over the Tallahatchie River have been repaired under this contract. MDOT anticipates this project will be complete by early fall 2017.

    “This section of Highway 6 sees a great deal of agricultural traffic, especially during peak times of the growing season,” Tagert said. “Replacing the bridges along this route is vital to the efficient movement of goods and services throughout the region.”

    Work also continues on two projects to replace multiple bridges on State Route 32 in Tallahatchie County. The first project will replace three bridges and several small drainage structures along Highway 32. The project also calls for the construction of a new bridge over the railroad just east of Webb. MDOT anticipates this project will be complete in fall 2018.

    The second project will replace two bridges approximately two and a half miles west of Highway 35. MDOT expects this project to be complete in fall 2017.

    MDOT plans to let a third project to contract that will replace seven bridges along State Route 32. MDOT is finalizing the plans for this project, but no estimated completion date has been set.

    “The 12 bridges on State Route 32 that will be replaced have been repaired multiple times and are posted at 15 tons or less,” said MDOT Executive Director Melinda McGrath. “These are steel beam bridges with timber pilings that were built in the late 1940s. Weather, wear and tear have made them a safety hazard for motorists.”

    Funding for these bridge replacement projects was made available through funds from the passage of House Bill 1630, known as the “Gaming Bill,” during the 2015 Legislative Session.

    MDOT is also moving forward with a project to replace the Tallahatchie River Bridge on State Route 6 in Panola County. This project will replace the existing Tallahatchie River Bridge as well as the relief bridges into a single 3,300-foot long bridge. The new bridge will be on a new alignment, just south of the existing bridge. This project also includes the realignment and reconstruction of other minor structures within the project limits, as well as the realignment of the Waldrup Road and Macedonia Road intersections. MDOT will coordinate with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to relocate the existing levee on the west side of the Tallahatchie River. MDOT anticipates this project to be complete in late fall 2018.

    Other major construction projects in District 2 include the following.

    • State Route 6 and State Route 7 Cable Barrier Installation in Lafayette County
      Crews continue work on a project that will install cable median barriers on State Route 6 from Jackson Avenue to University Avenue, and on State Route 7 from just north of the Belk Boulevard intersection to the four-lane section past State Route 30. New fill material is being added to the medians to raise the flow line. New drainage inlets will also be added to the median on State Route 6. Work is expected to be complete in spring 2018.
    • U.S. Highway 72 Expansion in Marshall County
      Construction continues on a project to four-lane the last remaining two-lane section of Highway 72 in Mississippi from State Route 302 to the Tennessee state line in Marshall County. Crews are currently working on grading, drainage and bridge work. The project will also add an interchange at Industrial Road and the realignment of Cayce Road. MDOT anticipates this project to be complete in summer 2018.
    • U.S. Highway 51 Coldwater River Bridge Replacement in Tate County
      This project will replace the existing 1,100-foot bridge with a new 2,000-foot bridge and raise the roadway by four feet to prevent future flooding. Currently, crews have completed driving the majority of the new bridge piles, and continue to finish dirt and drainage work. The bridge was originally scheduled for replacement in November 2016; however, damage sustained to the bridge during a March 2016 flood event caused MDOT to close the bridge and move the project timeline forward. A signed detour route is in place directing motorists to use Interstate 55 between Hernando and Coldwater. MDOT anticipates the project will be complete in mid-winter 2017.
    • Interstate 269 in DeSoto and Marshall Counties
      Construction of the Interstate 269 project is on schedule in North Mississippi. This is the largest active MDOT construction project in the state. Dirt and bridgework for the entire Interstate 269 corridor is complete. Crews are currently working on paving the sections of the project that have not been paved. MDOT expects Interstate 269 to be open for traffic in fall 2018. The first section of Interstate 269, from State Route 302 to the Tennessee state line in Marshall County, was opened to traffic on October 23, 2015.

    Work zones can present confusing and unfamiliar traffic patterns. For information on how to navigate a highway work zone safely, visit GoMDOT.com/drivesmartms.

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

  • MDOT refunds bonds, saves taxpayers millions

    The Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) recently refunded H.E.L.P (Highway Enhancement through Local Partnerships) bonds for Marshall County on the Interstate 269 project saving the taxpayers of Mississippi $3,844,769, announced Transportation Commissioner Mike Tagert.

    Refunding is the financial practice of refinancing governmental bonds; similar to when individuals refinance their homes. Bond refunding is used to achieve savings on interest costs.

    “The refunding of these bonds shows that diligence and timing are everything,” Tagert said. “The bonds were scheduled to be sold in January, but a post-presidential election interest rate spike delayed the sale and made potential future refunding uncertain.”

    As interest rates began falling in late spring, MDOT staff restarted efforts to move forward with the transaction to refund the bonds. On June 21, 2017, MDOT priced the transaction and took advantage of historically low tax-exempt rates and increased investor demand for tax-exempt bonds.

    “Over the life of the bonds, Mississippians will see real savings for today and tomorrow,” Tagert said. “This $3.8 million in savings will equate to additional transportation construction projects that would not have been possible otherwise.”

    Construction of the Interstate 269 project is on schedule in North Mississippi. This is the largest active MDOT construction project in the state. Dirt and bridgework for the entire Interstate 269 corridor is complete. Crews are currently working on completing paving for the project. MDOT expects Interstate 269 to be open for traffic in fall 2018. The first section of Interstate 269, from State Route 302 to the Tennessee state line in Marshall County, was opened to traffic on October 23, 2015.

    “This is a great example of how MDOT is working to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars,” Tagert said. “By having knowledgeable staff, the agency was equipped to take advantage of market values and save the taxpayers of Mississippi millions of dollars.”

    For more information, visit GoMDOT.com.

  • Multimodal Grants awarded for North Mississippi

    Commissioner Mike Tagert has announced funding for multimodal projects in Mississippi’s Northern Transportation District.

    “The projects these grants are funding will support existing jobs and create new opportunities for the citizens of North Mississippi, while also boosting the local economies,” said Tagert.

    The Mississippi Transportation Commission (MTC) recently approved the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) to award grants to regional and municipal airports, ports, public transit systems and railroads throughout north Mississippi.

    “MDOT’s responsibilities include maintaining and improving the state’s highways and interstates, but also focuses on providing a safe intermodal transportation network for airports, ports and waterways, railroads and public transit,” Tagert said. “Each of these modes of transportation plays a vital role in transporting people, goods and services that promote economic growth and development throughout Mississippi.”

    The grants for alternative forms of transportation help bolster and support the state’s surface transportation system. Grants were approved for the following regional and municipal airports in North Mississippi.

    • $229,630 – Columbus-Lowndes County Airport: Rehabilitate the maintenance hangar at the Columbus-Lowndes County Airport.
    • $230,901 – Corinth-Alcorn County Airport: improve the fuel facility at the Corinth-Alcorn County Airport.
    • $76,938 – Golden Triangle Regional Airport, Columbus: Install an inter-operable communication system for the Golden Triangle Regional Airport.
    • $104,452 – Houston Municipal Airport: Construct a new aircraft fuel farm at the Houston Municipal Airport.
    • $35,892 – Monroe County Airport, Aberdeen: Rehabilitate the aircraft fueling system at Monroe County Airport.
    • $79,763 – New Albany-Union County Airport: Finalize the construction of a new fuel farm at the New Albany-Union County Airport.
    • $17,239 – Okolona Municipal Airport: Rehabilitate the runway at the Okolona Municipal Airport.
    • $33,192 – Pontotoc County Airport, Pontotoc: Construct an 8-unit T-hangar at the Pontotoc County Airport.
    • $348,990 – Tunica Municipal Airport: Construct a 10-unit T-Hangar at the Tunica Municipal Airport.
    • $216,125 – University-Oxford Airport: Upgrade the aircraft fuel system, including installation of a new 25,000-gallon fuel tank, at the University-Oxford Airport.

    “Mississippi no longer competes regionally, but on a global level. Investing in local and municipal airports supports global economic development and logistics,” said Tagert.

    Grants were approved for the following ports and railroads in North Mississippi.

    • $388,684 – Lowndes County Port, Columbus: Purchase a working deck barge and excavator to support recurring dredging requirements of the port.
    • $130,680 – Port of Itawamba, Fulton: Upgrade the port’s conveyor and winch system.
    • $691,310 – Yellow Creek Port, Iuka: Purchase equipment for the Northeast Mississippi Waterfront Industrial Park.
    • $319,902 – Mississippi Delta Railroad, Clarksdale: Upgrade the rail from 85 pounds to 115 pounds from milepost 102.5 to milepost 103.
    • $272,250 – Mississippi Alabama Railroad Authority, Belmont: Replacement of railroad bridge deck crossties over State Route 30 and mainline rehabilitation consisting of crosstie replacement from milepost 539.9 to 542.6.
    • $311,850 – Itawamba Rail Authority, Fulton: Upgrade rail to 115 pounds along 4,116 feet of track, including ballast and crossties.

    “Improving our ports and rail system allows appropriate amounts agricultural products to be transported in a safer, more environmentally friendly manner, while reducing maintenance costs on roads and bridges,” Tagert said.

    Grants were approved for the following public transit systems in North Mississippi.

    • $60,405 – Aaron Henry Health Center, Clarksdale: Vehicle match: $10,405 for one 17-passenger ADA bus; and, $50,000 for vehicle insurance.
    • $21,109 – Climb-Up, Inc., Tupelo: Vehicle match: $11,509 for on 24/25 passenger ADA bus; and, $9,600 for vehicle insurance.
    • $38,540 – Northeast Mississippi Community Services, Booneville: Vehicle insurance.
    • $29,017 – Oxford-University Transit: Vehicle insurance.
    • $21,509 – Starkville-Mississippi State University Area Rapid Transit: Vehicle match: $11,509 for one 24/25 passenger ADA bus; and, $10,000 for vehicle insurance.
    • $24,805 – United Community Action Committee, Ashland: Vehicle match: $10,405 for one 17-passenger ADA bus; and, $14,400 for vehicle insurance.

    “Mississippi’s public transit systems play an instrumental role in providing affordable, reliable mobility options to citizens who do not own a vehicle or cannot drive. Helping these providers allows them to connect people to life’s basic needs, such as family and community events, medical appointments and grocery shopping,” Tagert said.

    For more information on Mississippi’s intermodal transportation network, visit GoMDOT.com.