• District 2 projects focus on increased efficiency, safety

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

    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.

    Work 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. This project is complete.

    MDOT plans to let a third project to contract in November 2017 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 bridge 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.

    MDOT is finalizing plans to replace a set of bridges on Interstate 55 over State Route 306 in Tate County. A new retaining wall will allow the new structures to have a single span and the new bridges will be shorter. A median detour will be utilized on the project while the new bridges are constructed. Work is expected to begin in mid-spring 2018.

    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.

    Other major construction projects in District 2 include the following.

    • Interstate 55 and State Route 302 Intersection Improvements in DeSoto County
      Crews have started a project that will help relieve traffic congestion at the intersection of I-55 and State Route 302. The project will add a right turn lane to the northbound and southbound exit ramps of I-55, as well as add a right turn/thru lane in both directions on State Route 302. The project will be constructed in multiple phases in order to minimize the impact to traffic. Currently, crews are removing the existing paved islands where the interstate exit ramps connect to State Route 302.
    • 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 flowline. 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 most of the new bridge, and continue to finish base and pavement work on the approaches to the bridge. 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 I-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 I-269 corridor is complete. Crews are currently working on paving the sections of the project that have not been paved. The first section of I-269, from State Route 302 to the Tennessee state line in Marshall County, was opened to traffic on October 23, 2015. The second section of I-269 from State Route 305 to State Route 302 is expected to be open to traffic on December 5. MDOT expects the last remaining section of I-269 from I-55 to State Route 305 to be open for traffic in fall 2018.

    Work zones can present 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.

  • District 1 projects focus on safety, system preservation

    The Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) is moving forward with major construction projects in North Mississippi, announced Transportation Commissioner Mike Tagert.

    Safety and efficiency improvement projects in Itawamba, Oktibbeha and Prentiss counties

    Crews continue with a project to increase safety along State Route 12 through Starkville in Oktibbeha County. The major component of the project is to remove the existing center, two-way left turn lane and replace it with a raised concrete curb median. Paving operations are underway from the beginning of the project to Airport Road. Crews continue to pour the concrete for the new raised medians. Construction began on February 27, and MDOT anticipates this phase of the safety project to be compete in mid-fall 2017.

    “Over a five-year period, there were 1,664 crashes on this portion of Highway 12,” Tagert said. “This number represents the highest crash rate per capita of any state-maintained road north of the Jackson-Metro area. This project will greatly increase the safety of Highway 12 for the residents of Starkville, students of Mississippi State University and visitors to the area.”

    Work to replace seven bridges along State Route 178 in Itawamba County is on schedule. Crews have completed the detour bridge over Lick Skillet Creek and are currently working on the replacement of the mainline bridge.

    Traffic has switched to new bridges on State Route 178 over Hickory Creek and Bull Mountain Creek in Itawamba County. Westbound traffic from Tremont now has access to Patton Flatt Road. Crews are working on replacing bridges over Gum Creek, Cypress Creek and a relief slough west of Patton Flatt Road. State Route 178 will remain closed to traffic until the new bridges are constructed. A signed detour route will be in place while construction takes place on this portion of State Route 178. MDOT expects the project to be complete in early summer 2019.

    MDOT is moving forward with plans to replace four bridges along State Route 145 in Prentiss County. Each bridge has weight limit restrictions and present safety concerns for the traveling public.

    Phase one started in late September and will replace three bridges over Twenty Mile Creek, Wolf Creek and the Wolf Creek tributary. Once work is complete on this phase, work will begin on phase two, which will replace a bridge over Osborne Creek, a box bridge on State Route 145 and the realignment of County Road 7090.

    Phases three and four of this project will replace a bridge over King’s Creek and a box bridge along State Route 145 north of Booneville. Construction of these two phases will begin on May 24, 2019, and have a milestone completion date of July 31, 2019. MDOT anticipates the entire project to be complete by early summer 2020.

    “These bridges have been on MDOT’s deficient bridge list and have become a safety concern for the traveling public,” Tagert said. “These projects will increase safety and mobility throughout the region.”

    System preservation in Lee and Monroe counties

     MDOT is on schedule with a five-mile pavement restoration project on U.S. Highway 45 in Lee County from the county line to north of Brewer Road. Crews are using multiple methods to replace or treat deteriorated asphalt several inches below the surface. Crews have finished applying soil cement to the outside lanes of U.S. Highway 45 between the Shannon exit and Brewer Road, and are expected to begin repaving. MDOT anticipates work to be complete in late fall 2017.

    MDOT has started a separate pavement rehabilitation project on State Route 25 in Monroe County. The mill and overlay project consists of three sections. The first two are from the U.S. Highway 45 Interchange in Aberdeen to U.S. Highway 278 in Amory. The third section is from U.S. Highway 278 to State Route 6 through downtown Amory. MDOT expects the project to be complete in mid-fall 2017.

    “Mississippi’s roads are deteriorating at rates faster than our crews can repair them, and this trend will continue unless a stable funding solution is found,” said Melinda McGrath, MDOT executive director. “However, pavement preservation projects like what we have in Lee and Monroe counties will improve safety, extend the life of the road surface and postpone costly, full-scale reconstructions.”

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

  • Drive safe through deer season danger

    One fall night while driving down a Mississippi road, a driver spots two eerie green eyes staring back into the glare of the headlights. What should a driver do when a deer merges onto a lane of the road that they are traveling in? How can drivers reach their destination safely with the threat of hitting a deer? The Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) wants to answer all questions on how to drive safely during deer season. 

    When summer finally winds down and fall begins, deer start to move around and become more visible throughout the state’s roadways. The increase in vehicle-deer crashes in the fall and winter months is partially a result of higher traffic volumes, higher vehicle speed and shorter daylight hours.

    “Mississippi averages over 3,000 deer-related crashes per year,” said Transportation Commissioner Mike Tagert. “Hitting a deer can be a very costly expense and sometimes it can be a life-threatening accident.”

    There is no way to control deer movement, but there are steps to take to minimize the chances of a collision while driving. MDOT offers these tips for all motorists:

    • DO NOT SWERVE if a deer runs in front of a moving car. Swerving can cause drivers to lose control of their vehicle, causing an even more serious accident.
    • Deer are pack animals. Take extra caution for deer lingering around in the same area.
    • Pay attention when driving at dawn and dusk. About 20 percent of crashes occur in early morning, while more than half occur between 5 p.m. and midnight.
    • Always buckle up for safety and drive at a safe, sensible speed.
    • At night use high beams, when no traffic is approaching, to illuminate the eyes of deer near the road. Make sure both headlights and high beams are cleaned and aimed correctly.   

    “No matter if a driver is traveling rural roads or busy highways, the threat of hitting a deer while driving is very real,” Tagert said. “All motorists should take extra precautions during deer season to ensure their safety while traveling.”

    MDOT urges motorists to avoid distracted driving and buckle up for safety when traveling Mississippi’s highways and roadways during deer season.

    For additional travel safety tips, visit GoMDOT.com/drivesmartms or follow @MississippiDOT or @MikeTagert on Twitter.

  • Marine highways – what are they?

    When asked to describe a highway most people will tend to describe a roadway that they drive their automobile on. But, did you know that there are other types of highways?

    “America’s Marine Highway System consists of the nation’s navigable waterways,” said Transportation Commissioner Mike Tagert. “These waterways play an important role in the logistics, safety and economic development of our state, and our nation.”

    Marine highways are navigable waterways that have been designated by the U.S. Secretary of Transportation and have the ability to provide additional capacity to relieve congested landside routes serving freight and passenger movement.

    “Each marine highway has a corridor designation that reflects the congested landside route it parallels,” Tagert said.

    In Mississippi, the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway is designated as M-65 because it is parallel to Interstate 65 in Alabama. The Mississippi River is designated as M-55 because of its relationship to Interstate 55.

    “These marine highway designations are important because they provide ways for goods and services to be moved from Mississippi throughout the region, and even internationally,” Tagert said. “Marine highways also reduce the number of heavy commercial vehicles traveling on our highways, which also increases safety for the traveling public.”

    The Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) has installed signs throughout the state to show the marine highway designations of these navigable waterways. Motorists will notice the M-65 signs in northeast Mississippi at four Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway Crossings: U.S. Highway 72, U.S. Highway 45, U.S. Highway 82 and Interstate 22.

    Additionally, signs for M-55 will be installed at four Mississippi River crossings throughout the state.

    For more information about Mississippi’s Marine Highway system, visit GoMDOT.com.

  • Mississippi Transportation Commission opposes longer, heavier big rigs

    There is proposed legislation in Congress to modify  vehicle weight limitations for the Interstate Highway System and the possibility of “Twin-33’s” being allowed on interstates. Supporters of the legislation claim that increased truck length and weight limits will increase efficiency and safety.

    Your Mississippi Transportation Commission (MTC) has sent a letter to Mississippi’s Congressional delegation showing that the proposed length and weight increases not only violate current bridge formulas but will also decrease safety and increase repair costs.

    The 1975 bridge formula used by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) protects the structural integrity of bridges from damage caused by heavy trucks. The six-axle configuration proposed in 2015, which has been proposed again this year, will violate this formula.

    FHWA tested one 91,000 pound six-axle combination in the Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Limit Study, but the configuration tested could only carry up to 45,000 pounds on the three-axle and still be in compliance with the bridge formula.

    Last year, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) released its Final Truck Size and Weight Report to Congress, recommending there be no changes in current truck size and weight limits. The USDOT report concluded that there was not enough data to support the claims that bigger trucks would be safer.

    According to the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), one in nine bridges is structurally deficient. In Mississippi, that number is one in eight. Overweight trucks cause a disproportionate amount of damage to the state’s deteriorating roads and bridges compared to passenger vehicles. An 18,000-pound truck axle does over 3,000 times more damage to pavement than a typical passenger vehicle axle. Increasing the weight of a heavy truck by only 10 percent, increases damage by 33 percent.

    “The limited data available actually shows that heavier trucks have higher crash rates and that longer trucks take 22 feet longer to stop, causing considerable bridge damage,” said the MTC in its letter to Congress. “Our maintenance efforts are already seriously underfunded. This type of legislation would further contribute to the destruction of bridges and to the cost of repairs and rehabilitation on states, and ultimately the public.”

    To view the full letter from the MTC to Congress, click here. For more information, visit GoMDOT.com.

  • 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.

  • Safety, increased mobility at forefront of MDOT District 1 projects

    The Mississippi Department of Transportation has announced updates to infrastructure improvement projects in the Northern Transportation District.

    “These projects are located throughout District 1, including Itawamba, Oktibbeha and Pontotoc counties, in the northeastern portion of the state and will greatly improve safety and mobility in the region,” said Commissioner Mike Tagert.

    Highway 12 Safety Improvements in Oktibbeha County

    Construction of the safety improvements along Highway 12 through the city of Starkville began in late February. The first phase of the project extends from approximately one-quarter mile west of New Light Road to Eckford Drive. Phase two will begin at Eckford Drive and extend to Russell Street, and is scheduled to be let for bids in November. MDOT anticipates the construction of phase two will begin in early 2018.

    Crews are currently working on removing the center turn lane in preparation for the new raised curb median, as well as widening the intersections at Stark Road/Airport Road and Louisville Street. A new traffic signal will be added in front of Kroger, and existing asphalt will be removed throughout the project and replaced with new asphalt.

    The traffic signals along Highway 12 will also be replaced and upgraded with state-of-the-art technology. Each new signal will be controlled by radar detection and will be connected to other traffic signals with fiber optic cable. The fiber optic cable will allow the traffic signals to communicate with one another, reducing congestion and increasing traffic flow.

    “With the reduction of the two-way center turn lane, the number of potential collision points for head-on crashes is reduced significantly,” said MDOT District 1 Engineer Mark Holley. “Traffic flow will improve with the traffic signal upgrades in this project.”

    Engineering research shows that such improvements will dramatically reduce crash rates.

    MDOT has performed similar work along heavily traveled U.S. Highway 49 in Hattiesburg and Gulfport, as well as on State Route 25/ Lakeland Drive at Dogwood Festival Market in Flowood.

    Compared to other major routes in the Golden Triangle, this section of Highway 12 has one of the highest volumes of traffic. Based on MDOT traffic count data, the corridor averages approximately 25,000 vehicles per day.

    “This section of Highway 12 represents the highest crash rate per capita of any state road north of the Jackson-Metro area,” said Tagert. “After conducting a safety audit, we found that in the course of five years there were 1,664 crashes on this short portion of Highway 12.”

    Construction began on February 27, and MDOT anticipates this phase of the safety project to be compete in late summer 2017. Lane closures will be required during the project; however, these closures will be limited to nighttime to minimize the impact to businesses during construction. Work not involving lane closures will take place during daylight hours.

    “Highway 12 is an extremely important business route for our community,” Tagert said. “We must protect and invest in this route for its long term preservation.”

    State Route 178 Bridge Replacements in Itawamba County

    This project in Itawamba County will replace eight bridges along State Route 178 between State Route 25 and the Alabama state line. Construction of detour roads and bridges at Gum Creek, Johns Creek at McFadden Road and Johns Creek at Howell Road began in February.

    State Route 178 will be closed to traffic east of Patton Flat Road until November 20 while bridges over Hickory Creek and Bull Mountain Creek are replaced. A signed detour route will be in place while construction takes place on this portion of State Route 178.

    “Safety is MDOT’s top priority,” said Tagert. “These bridges have been on MDOT’s deficient bridge list, and have become a safety concern for the traveling public. This project will increase safety and mobility throughout the region.”

    MDOT expects the project to be complete in early summer 2019.

    Other major projects in MDOT’s District 1 include:

    • 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.
    • 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.
    • State Route 25 in Monroe County – The new section of State Route 25 in Monroe County from just south of Becker to U.S. Highway 278 in Amory was opened to traffic on April 12. This new section of State Route 25 will support economic growth and development in Monroe County; however, if additional funding had been available, the section could have been constructed as a four-lane, instead of only two lanes. MDOT has also developed plans for two other sections of State Route 25 north of U.S. 278 in Amory, but due to the lack of funding, there is no timeline for when construction of these sections will begin.

    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 Video Series on Transparency and Accountability

    The Mississippi Department of Transportation recently started a video series showcasing transparency and accountability to the taxpayers of Mississippi. These videos cover numerous topics that address public concerns including the following.

    MDOT’s Accountability

    A primary goal of the Mississippi Department of Transportation is to be transparent and efficient in all operations. Being accountable to the taxpayer is paramount in all agency duties. There are multiple mechanisms in place that provide oversight for MDOT’s funding, policies and operations. Learn more about Legislative oversight, the Transportation Commission, and other measures that ensure MDOT remains accountable.

    MDOT Funding: Where it comes from and where it goes

    MDOT’s funding for state fiscal year 2016 was approximately $1.06 billion. Of this, half came from federal sources, and the other half came from state sources. Learn more about where MDOT’s funding comes from and where it goes.

    MDOT Funding: What is a Pothole?

    Potholes are a common sight to Mississippi motorists. Learn more about how potholes are formed, and what it takes to repair them.

    MDOT First Responders

    MDOT workers go above and beyond their normal duties to become first responders during an emergency. From de-icing the roadways after a winter storm to removing tree limbs following a tornado, these hardworking employees provide a vital service that helps save the lives of people in Mississippi.

    MDOT Equipment

    MDOT crews depend on functional and reliable equipment to preserve the state’s roads and protect the traveling public. From day-to-day roadway maintenance to emergency response, these vehicles are a critical factor in maintaining Mississippi’s 30,000 state-owned highway miles and over 5,000 bridges that support 90 percent of the state’s commercial traffic and 60 percent of all traffic.

    Checkout the current episodes in the series on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL35Emno659YNcmh6RZdWxqztFdj61TaFo. For more information on the funding of roads and bridges, visit www.GoMDOT.com/betterfundingbetterroads.

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