• Four-lane project underway on State Route 15 in Pontotoc County

    A truck passes over the Tanglefoot Trail Bridge on State Route 15 in Pontotoc County. The bridge will be replaced and the grade lowered to match the new bridge in the foreground which built as part of a four-lane project near Ecru.

    The Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) will expand a section of State Route 15 in Pontotoc County from two lanes to four.

    The $21.5 million construction project will stretch approximately eight miles from State Route 76 north to the Union County line.

    Crews will begin in Ecru, where State Route 15 will be five lanes, with two travel lanes in each direction and a central turn lane when the project is completed.

    From there crews will construct two new lanes adjacent to the current highway. Earthwork for the two new lanes was completed in October 2017.

    When the two new lanes are completed, traffic will be routed off the existing highway and onto the new lanes. Crews will then mill and overlay the existing lanes.

    The four-lane project also includes replacement or repair of three bridges along the existing highway. On the south end of the project, the Lappatubby Creek Bridge, which was constructed in 1955, will be replaced. The Tanglefoot Trail, which was built in 1971, will be replaced, and the existing roadway will be lowered to a similar grade as the new lanes.

    A third bridge in Ecru crossing the Lappatubby Creek was built in 1971 and will see several repairs and improvements.

    “The project is part of MDOT’s vision to have a four-lane divided highway from Pontotoc to New Albany,” said Commissioner Mike Tagert, Northern Transportation District. “The section from the Pontotoc County line to New Albany is currently unspecified due to lack of funding.”

    The project was awarded to Talbot Brothers, of Nesbit, in April. The estimated completion will be summer 2020.

  • Safety improvements continue at Goodman Road in DeSoto County

    The Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) continues to work on safety improvements at the Interstate 55 intersection with Goodman Road in DeSoto County.

    The intersection averages 41,000 motorists each day.

    When the project is completed in late fall, traffic exiting I-55 will be reconfigured to help alleviate congestion and increase safety.

    “The improvements will improve traffic flow at this high-use intersection,” said Commissioner Mike Tagert, Northern Transportation District. “Crews have nearly completed the first phase which included substantial drainage work at the interchange.”

    The Goodman Road intersection is being constructed in multiple phases that require the completion of one phase before moving on to the next. Workers are active in different areas of the project site to complete specific steps and minimize the impact to traffic flow.

    Currently, motorists exiting I-55 northbound have two options: turn left at the traffic light or merge right. Some right-turning vehicles must cross three lanes of traffic to access the turn lane for Southcrest Parkway and the hospital.

    When the new configuration is completed, motorists will have three options: turn left at the traffic light, merge right or turn right at a new lane controlled by a traffic light. The new lane will access two dedicated turn lanes to Southcrest Parkway separated by slotted curbs.

    “The new configuration will prevent traffic that is merging right from crossing over to the dedicated turn lanes,” Tagert said.

    A similar configuration will be installed for I-55 southbound traffic accessing Interstate Boulevard where there will be one dedicated turn lane separated by slotted curbs.

    For traffic on Goodman Road, currently motorists heading east have three through lanes and two options to access I-55.

    When the project is completed, motorists will no longer be able to turn left across traffic to access I-55. Instead motorists will have to use the existing right lane entrance to the on-ramp loop. The three through lanes will remain. A similar configuration will be installed for westbound traffic on Goodman Road.

    “By eliminating the option to merge over multiple lanes of traffic and the option to turn left across traffic, the new configuration will decrease conflict points and encourage traffic flow,” Tagert said.

    Crews are preparing to pave several sections of the project before moving on the second phase of the project, which will eliminate the left turns on to I-55.

    Phase 3 will remove existing medians and add slotted curbs. Phase 4 will complete the new right turn bays at both exit ramps.

    The $5.3 million project was awarded to Ferrell Paving, Inc., of Memphis, Tenn., in November 2017.

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

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

  • Project updates in Northwest Mississippi

    An aerial view of Interstate 269 in DeSoto County looking east.

    Interstate 269 in DeSoto and Marshall counties

    Construction continues on the state’s largest active highway construction project. The first two phases are complete and open to traffic from the Tennessee state line in Marshall County to State Route 305 in DeSoto County. The final nine-mile section will connect Interstate 55 and State Route 305.

    “When the final stretch is complete, we will have full connectivity between I-55 in Mississippi and I-40 in Tennessee,” said Commissioner Mike Tagert, Northern Transportation District. “It will drive new growth opportunities for DeSoto County and north Mississippi.”

    Heavy rainfall and cold weather in late 2017 have caused delays; however, the final phase of the project is scheduled for completion in fall 2018.

    Interstate 55 bridge replacement in Tate County

    A project to replace two overpasses at Exit 271 near Coldwater has begun. Crews have performed earthwork to construct temporary detour lanes through the median where a temporary detour bridge will be built between the existing bridges. During the project, traffic will be rerouted onto the detour bridge while the existing bridges are replaced one at a time. When the project is complete, the temporary detour bridge will be removed.

    The existing bridges were built in 1959, and the bridge decks had deteriorated to a point where replacement was the only solution. The $9 million project will install a pair of bridges on the site with a life expectancy of 75 to 100 years. The project is estimated to be completed in late 2020.

    State Route 32 bridge replacements in Tallahatchie County

    Work continues on three separate projects to replace multiple timber pile bridges along State Route 32 between State Route 35 and the Tallahatchie River.

    “The 12 bridges on State Route 32 that will be replaced have been repaired multiple times and are posted at 15 tons or less,” Tagert said. “These are steel beam bridges with timber pilings that were built in the late 1940s and have outlived their serviceable lives.”

    Near the town of Charleston, the first project replacing two bridges has been completed and opened to traffic since August 2017.

    A second project one mile west will replace six bridges and move traffic to a new alignment on State Route 32. The project began in February 2018. Earthwork is underway for the new alignment, and piles have been driven at all the bridge sites. One bridge is complete through the road deck, and another has caps installed on the piles. The other four bridges are in the early stages of construction.

    One bridge will be replaced with a box culvert as part of the project. Six existing timber box culverts will be replaced with modern concrete structures. The bridge and culvert work is expected to be completed in early spring 2019.

    A third project on State Route 32 replaces three other bridges and constructs a new railroad bridge. The project is taking place on a new alignment north of the existing roadway. Two bridges have been built, and the third will be completed when guardrails are installed. The railroad bridge rises 30 feet above the busy Illinois Central Line which carries a high volume of freight traffic. The 335-foot-long bridge is over 50 percent complete with beams set across the main span. The third project is expected to open to traffic in late summer.

    In the future, a fourth project to replace the Tallahatchie River Bridge will be advertised for bids.

    “Most of the work is taking place off the existing roadway to minimize impacts to traffic and to keep workers safe,” Tagert said. “However, motorists should use caution in the work zones and expect delays. Construction equipment and dump trucks will be entering and exiting the work zones throughout the project.”

    Pavement preservation projects

    Several pavement preservation projects are underway throughout Northwest Mississippi.

    “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,” Tagert said. “However, pavement preservation projects will improve safety, extend the life of the road surface and postpone costly, full-scale reconstructions.”

    –         An $880,000 project on U.S. Highway 49 in Tallahatchie County to overlay highway from U.S. Highway 49 West to the Coahoma County line is nearing completion.

    –         A $4.4 million project on U.S. Highway 49 in Coahoma County will overlay highway from Clarksdale to the Tallahatchie County line. The project is slated for completion in mid-summer.

    –         A $9.6 million project will overlay U.S. Highway 72 in Benton County from the Marshall County line to the Tippah County line. The project is scheduled for completion in late summer.

    –         A $2.3 million project will overlay State Route 4 in Tate County from State Route 305 to the Marshall County line. The project was awarded in late April, and a construction schedule has not been set.

    MDOT has advertised for bids for three other pavement preservation projects on State Route 7 in Leflore County, U.S. Highway 51 in Panola County and State Route 178 in DeSoto County.

    Work zones present new traffic patterns and configurations that may be unfamiliar to motorists. For information about how to navigate highway work zones safely, visit GoMDOT.com/drivesmartms.

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

     

    ###

  • State Route 245 at Tubbalubba Creek to close for bridge replacement

    The Mississippi Department of Transportation will close a section of State Route 245 in Lee County May 29 for a maintenance project to replace a bridge.

    State Route 245 will be closed in both directions between County Road 130 and County Road 54 during the replacement of Tubbalubba Creek Bridge.

    A detour will be in place on U.S. Highway 45 throughout the project. Traffic will be rerouted at the Shannon exit on the north end of the project and the Okolona exit on the south end.

    The existing timber pile bridge, located about two miles south of Shannon, was built in 1934 and has posted weight restrictions. Inspections revealed decaying piles and section loss in the steel girders.

    “The Tubbalubba Creek Bridge has outlived its design life and could become unsafe for the traveling public,” said Commissioner Mike Tagert, Northern Transportation District. “The new bridge will have a design life of 75 years and will increase commerce and mobility in the area.”

    The $2.4 million replacement project was awarded to Joe McGee Construction in Lake. The project is expected to be completed in late fall.

    Work zones present new traffic patterns and configurations that may be unfamiliar to motorists. For information about how to navigate highway work zones safely, visit GoMDOT.com/drivesmartms.

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

    • 2018-D-1-Roadeo_Tupelo-MS_4-19-2018_Backhoe-Winners

      Backhoe winners, left to right, Johnny Shields, District 1 Assistant Maintenance Engineer; Simpson Wofford, first place; Shun Blansett, second place; Dennis Washington, third place; and Matt Dunn, District 1 Maintenance Engineer.

    • 2018-D-1-Roadeo_Tupelo-MS_4-19-2018_Bushhog-Winners

      Bush hog winners, left to right, Johnny Shields, District 1 Assistant Maintenance Engineer; Charles Naron, first place; Randy Vandevander, second place; Charles Johnson, third place; and Matt Dunn, District 1 Maintenance Engineer.

    • 2018-D-1-Roadeo_Tupelo-MS_4-19-2018_Lowboy-Winners

      Lowboy winners, left to right, Johnny Shields, District 1 Assistant Maintenance Engineer; Steve Bass, first place; Mike Mink, second place; Keith Donahue, third place; and Matt Dunn, District 1 Maintenance Engineer.

    • 2018-D-1-Roadeo_Tupelo-MS_4-19-2018_Motor-Grader-Winners

      Motor grader winners, left to right, Johnny Shields, District 1 Assistant Maintenance Engineer; Simpson Wofford, first place; Matthew Prestage, second place; Andy Long, third place; and Matt Dunn, District 1 Maintenance Engineer.

    • 2018-D-1-Roadeo_Tupelo-MS_4-19-2018_Single-Axle-Dump-Winners

      Single-axle dump truck winners, left to right, Johnny Shields, District 1 Assistant Maintenance Engineer; Steve Bass, first place; Scottie Downs, second place; Matt Glissen, third place; and Matt Dunn, District 1 Maintenance Engineer.

    • 2018-D-1-Roadeo_Tupelo-MS_4-19-2018_Tandem-Axle-Dump-Winners

      Tandem-axle dump truck winners, left to right, Johnny Shields, District 1 Assistant Maintenance Engineer; Steve Allen, first place; Steve Bass, second place; Roger Brown, third place; and Matt Dunn, District 1 Maintenance Engineer.

    MDOT District 1 Equipment Operators Roadeo winners announced

    Congratulations to the winners of the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) District 1 Equipment Operators Roadeo held April 19 in  Tupelo.

    Employee training is one way MDOT ensures that crews in the field are operating as safely as possible, and MDOT has taken a creative approach to training. The Roadeos display MDOT’s skilled, competent maintenance workforce with the knowledge, skills and abilities gained from experience working on Mississippi’s highways.

    District 1 events and winners are as follows:

    Lowboy

    • Steve Bass of Tupelo, first place
    • Mike Mink of Tupelo, second place
    • Keith Donahue of Tupelo, third place

    Single-axle dump truck

    • Steve Bass of Tupelo, first place
    • Scottie Downs of Booneville, second place
    • Matt Glissen of Fulton, third place

    Tandem-axle dump truck

    • Steve Allen of Booneville, first place
    • Steve Bass of Tupelo, second place
    • Roger Brown of Becker, third place

    Backhoe

    • Simpson Wofford of Becker, first place
    • Shun Blansett of Houston, second place
    • Dennis Washington of Eupora, third place

    Motor grader

    • Simpson Wofford of Becker, first place
    • Matthew Prestage of Fulton, second place
    • Andy Long of Tupelo, third place

    Bush hog

    • Charles Naron of Houston, first place
    • Randy Vandevander of Tupelo, second place
    • Charles Johnson of Houston, third place

    The top two winners from each event have advanced to the state finals, which will be held in Natchez on June 6. At the state competition, winners from all six districts will compete and a state champion will be crowned.

    • 2018-D-2-Roadeo-Batesville-MS_Batesville-MS_4-5-2018_WRS21603-Lowboy

      Lowboy winners, left to right, Mitch Turner, District 2 Engineer; John C. Ener, first place; Telly Doyle, second place; Lloyd Akins, third place; and Brian Childs, District 2 Assistant Maintenance Engineer.

    • 2018-D-2-Roadeo-Batesville-MS_Batesville-MS_4-5-2018_WRS21608-Single-Axle-Dump

      Single-axle dump truck winners, left to right, Mitch Turner, District 2 Engineer; Lloyd Akins, first place; Phil H. Witt, second place; Damon C. Braddock, third place; and Brian Childs, District 2 Assistant Maintenance Engineer.

    • 2018-D-2-Roadeo-Batesville-MS_Batesville-MS_4-5-2018_WRS21612-Tandem-Axle-Dump

      Tandem-axle dump truck winners, left to right, Mitch Turner, District 2 Engineer; Phil H. Witt, first place; Lloyd Akins, second place; Telly Doyle, third place; and Brian Childs, District 2 Assistant Maintenance Engineer.

    • 2018-D-2-Roadeo-Batesville-MS_Batesville-MS_4-5-2018_WRS21619-Motor-Grader

      Motor grader winners, left to right, Mitch Turner, District 2 Engineer; Thomas E. Malone, second place; Thomas R. Goode, third place; and Brian Childs, District 2 Assistant Maintenance Engineer. Not pictured: Jeremy J. Hankins, first place.

    • 2018-D-2-Roadeo-Batesville-MS_Batesville-MS_4-5-2018_WRS21625-Bushhog

      Bush hog winners, left to right, Mitch Turner, District 2 Engineer; Lloyd Akins, first place; Thomas E. Malone, second place; Willie B. Duke, third place; and Brian Childs, District 2 Assistant Maintenance Engineer.

    • 2018-D-2-Roadeo-Batesville-MS_Batesville-MS_4-5-2018_WRS21634-Backhoe

      Backhoe winners, left to right, Mitch Turner, District 2 Engineer; Thomas R. Goode, first place; Josh Williams, second place; James McCullough, third place; and Brian Childs, District 2 Assistant Maintenance Engineer.

    District 2 Equipment Operators Roadeo winners announced

    Congratulations to the winners of the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) District 2 Equipment Operators Roadeo held April 5 in Batesville.

    Employee training is one way MDOT ensures that crews in the field are operating as safely as possible, and MDOT has taken a creative approach to training. The Roadeos display MDOT’s skilled, competent maintenance workforce with the knowledge, skills and abilities gained from experience working on Mississippi’s highways.

    Lowboy

    • John C. Ener of Tunica, first place
    • Telly Doyle of Batesville, second place
    • Lloyd Akins of Ashland, third place

    Single-axle dump truck

    • Lloyd Akins of Ashland, first place
    • Phil H. Witt of Ashland, second place
    • Damon C. Braddock of Ashland, third place

    Tandem-axle dump truck

    • Phil H. Wit of Ashland t, first place
    • Lloyd Akins of Ashland, second place
    • Telly Doyle of Batesville, third place

    Backhoe

    • Thomas R. Goode of Holly Springs, first place
    • Josh Williams of Batesville, second place
    • James McCullough of Senatobia, third place

    Motor grader

    • Jeremy J. Hankins of Batesville, first place
    • Thomas E. Malone of Batesville, second place
    • Thomas R. Goode of Holly Springs, third place

    Bush hog

    • Lloyd Akins of Ashland, first place
    • Thomas E. Malone of Batesville, second place
    • Willie B. Duke of Marks, third place

     

    The top two winners from each event have advanced to the state finals, which will be held in Natchez on June 6. At the state competition, winners from all six districts will compete and a state champion will be crowned.

  • MDOT updates projects in northwest Mississippi

    Commissioner Mike Tagert, Northern Transportation District, has announced updates to Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) projects in Northwest Mississippi.

    Interstate 269 in DeSoto and Marshall counties
    Construction continues on the state’s largest active highway construction project. The first two phases of are complete and open to traffic from the Tennessee state line in Marshall County to State Route 305 in DeSoto County.

    The final nine-mile stretch will connect Interstate I-55 and State Route 305.

    “When the final stretch is complete, we will have full connectivity between I-55 and I-40 in Tennessee,” Tagert said. “It will drive new growth opportunities for DeSoto County and north Mississippi.”

    The first layer of asphalt has been laid on the entire project. Additional lifts will be laid to tie in bridges and interchanges. More than 100,000 tons of asphalt have been laid on the project to date.

    Rain in fall 2017 and cold winter have delayed the project. The paving operation is 35 percent complete and scheduled for completion in late summer 2018.

    State Route 6 Tallahatchie River Bridge in Panola County
    The 3,300-foot span will replace the existing Tallahatchie River Bridge and relief bridge. The new bridge is on a new alignment just south of the existing bridge. The project includes the realignment and reconstruction of other minor structures within the project limits and 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 estimates project completion in December 2018.

    Other major construction projects in District 2 include the following.

    · 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. The project will add an interchange at Industrial Road and the realignment of Cayce Road. MDOT anticipates this project to be complete in summer 2018.

    · Interstate 55 and State Route 302 Intersection Improvements in DeSoto County
    The project adds new right turn lanes to the northbound and southbound exit ramps of I-55 and right turn/through lanes in both directions on State Route 302. The improvements will improve traffic flow at the high-use intersection. Crews are currently doing substantial drainage work at the interchange. The project is slated for a fall 2018 completion.

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

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

  • U.S. Highway 51 Coldwater River Bridge Opens to Traveling Public

    The Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) opened a new bridge over the Coldwater River in Tate County to all traffic.

    “We are pleased to announce the completion of the project reconnecting Tate and DeSoto counties, and the rest of the region, on Highway 51,” said Commissioner Mike Tagert, Northern Transportation Commissioner. “About 3,200 motorists used the bridge each day before it was damaged by flooding in 2016. Residents, businesses and industries will once again be able to easily access their communities using Highway 51.”

    Crews put the finishing lifts of asphalt on the $22.7 million project last week. Rumble strips were installed and lane striping applied finished the project this week.

    “We needed a few consistent days of good weather so crews could complete their work,” Tagert said.

    The original bridge, built in 1935, was closed in March 2016 after flooding damaged the bridge’s structural supports. The new 2,000-foot span is 900 feet longer and four feet taller to provide more resiliency to high water events. The travel lanes have been widened to 14 feet.

    “Thank you to the public for your patience while we built a bigger and stronger bridge,” Tagert said. “We appreciate the MDOT employees who worked on this project for their diligence and for being good stewards of taxpayer dollars to keep this project on budget despite the many challenges.”

  • MDOT releases 2018 Mississippi Official State Highway Map

    The free 2018 Mississippi Official State Highway Map is available now. Transportation Commissioner Mike Tagert and the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) recently unveiled the map’s cover featuring Tishomingo State Park.

    “We live in a digital world, and it seems that all of our technological advancements today come in the form of upgraded smartphones, but this map not only guides travelers around the Magnolia State, it promotes one of our scenic state parks,” Tagert said. “Most people are unaware that MDOT distributes 2.5 million copies of the map throughout the Mid-South and most of the lower 48 states.”

    Through a partnership with the Mississippi Development Authority and Visit Mississippi, MDOT provides the map in welcome centers across the state and through local city and county chambers, development groups, Main Street Associations and convention and visitors bureaus. One of the map’s highlights is a list of things to do in Mississippi including food, music, museums and bike trails. MDOT works with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks (MDWFP) to help promote the state’s parks.

    Each year, the map cover features a local tourist attraction or scenic destination from around the state. This year, the cover features the iconic swinging bridge in Tishomingo State Park.

    “This swinging bridge is very special to me because my wife and I got married here 40 years ago,” said Greg Collier, Tishomingo County Board of Supervisors president. “We would like to thank MDOT for featuring the swinging bridge in the Tishomingo State Park on this year’s state highway map cover.”

    Tishomingo State Park is a public recreation area located in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in Tishomingo County, about 45 miles northeast of Tupelo. The park’s major feature is Bear Creek Canyon and its sandstone outcroppings. Activities in the park include rock climbing, fishing and hiking. The park sits at Milepost 304 of the Natchez Trace Parkway, a scenic road operated by the U.S. National Park Service commemorating the historic Natchez Trace. The park was voted the most popular outdoor recreation destination in Mississippi last year and is home to 13 miles of walking trails. It offers one thing visitors will not find at most other state parks – a floating canoe tour. The park offers 62 RV campsites, primitive campsite area, six cabins, one cottage and a group camp facility.  Reservations can be made by online reservations at www.mdwfp.com or by calling the park at (662) 438-6914.

    “This map has the potential to get into a lot of hands and reach many people,” said Jennifer Head, MDWFP director of state parks. “We thrive on tourism. I believe the state park system is one of the best kept secrets in the state, and Tishomingo State Park is truly one of our most beautiful parks.”

    Tishomingo County has earned the reputation of being one of the most successful rural counties in the United States. Over the past several years, Tishomingo County has won over 2,000 manufacturing jobs that have brought $307 million into the county.

    “Tishomingo County has seen huge industrial growth over the last five years, and over the last 10 years, it has become one of the most popular places for people to retire,” Collier said. “But, just as important, the county has seen a 12 percent growth in tourism over the same period, and the Tishomingo State Park is a big reason for that.”

    Tourism is a valuable part of Mississippi’s economic story. Tourism is the fourth largest industry in the state. This past year, over 23 million people visited Mississippi. That represents $6.3 billion going to the state economy and over 86,000 direct jobs.

    “This map is not only designed to promote northeast Mississippi, but also the entire state,” Tagert said. Tourism plays such a huge role in our state economy, and this map helps tourists get to the destinations that interest them.”

    The map is an invaluable resource for visitors to the state and provides an opportunity to highlight the different regions of Mississippi. Last year, 2.6 million people engaged with staff at the welcome centers. These visitors actually signed in and requested information from welcome center employees.

    “Highways lead visitors to our authentic Mississippi experiences – our attractions, our restaurants and our hotels throughout the state,” said Craig Ray, Visit Mississippi director. “An estimated 95 percent of our 23 million visitors arrive by car, truck, bus – on our roads. We are officially a drive-in state, and this map helps drive and educate our visitors to where they want to go. Visit Mississippi proudly distributes MDOT’s state highway map at our 13 welcome centers around the state.”

    Tagert, Collier, Head and Ray all share the same sentiment: Tourism is vital to Mississippi’s economy and the Official State Highway Map is an important tool in boosting tourism throughout the state.

    “This map is a team effort to bring people to our state and see for themselves the great state of Mississippi,” Tagert said. “Tourism plays a vital role in our state’s economic well-being, and the state highway map certainly plays a big role in that.”

    The 2018 Official State Highway Map is available now. To order a free copy, visit GoMDOT.com/maps.

  • Don’t wreck the holidays — celebrate safely this year

    The holiday season is finally upon us, and so is the season to spend extra time celebrating with friends and family. As many are looking forward to decorating the tree and eating delicious foods, some are anticipating the upcoming weeks of holiday parties and social gatherings. The hustle and bustle of these events can be exciting, but they also can become deadly. The Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) wants to remind the traveling public of the dangers of drinking and driving, and the importance of planning ahead.

    “Every holiday party begins with planning. MDOT wants the traveling public to take the same approach when it comes to holiday travel,” said Melinda McGrath, P.E., MDOT executive director. “We want to keep our roads as safe as possible this holiday season, and we cannot stress enough the importance of having a designated driver. If you plan on drinking during the holidays, always hand your keys over to someone who has not been drinking.”

    Drunk driving effects thousands of people across the U.S. every year. Every day almost 29 people die in an alcohol-impaired vehicle crash. In 2016, one person was killed in an alcohol-related crash every 50 minutes.

    In every state, it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol level (BAC) of .08 or higher. However, even small amounts of alcohol can impair a person’s ability to drive. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 2,017 people were killed in 2016 in alcohol related crashes where drivers were under the legal BAC limit.

    Alcohol impairs thinking, reasoning, and muscle coordination, which restricts a person from operating a vehicle correctly. Even though someone isn’t feeling or acting drunk, does not automatically mean this person is okay to drive. Just one drink can have significant consequences if someone decides to get behind the wheel.

    While celebrating this year, MDOT offers these tips to ensure Mississippi’s roads remain safe for all motorists this holiday season.

    • If you drink alcohol, do not get behind the wheel for any reason.  Make sure you have a designated driver in mind or a taxi to take you home…
    • Hand your keys over to a trusted friend or family member at the beginning of the night before the first drink. This removes any temptations of thinking you are okay enough to drive.
    • Hold your friends and family accountable; if someone is drinking, do not let them get behind the wheel. Take their keys and make sure they have a sober ride home.
    • Impaired drivers are not only a danger to themselves, but also to other innocent drivers on the road. If you suspect someone is driving drunk, call the police when it is safe to do so.
    • Be aware of other drivers: don’t assume that everyone else is driving as safely as you are.

    “MDOT wants everyone to celebrate the holidays safely, Remember, drugged driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving and driving under the influence of certain prescription medications can be just as deadly,” McGrath said. “We want everyone to make smart decisions over the holidays and truly enjoy their time spent with friends and family celebrating this wonderful time of the year.”

    For more tips on traveling safely this holiday season, visit GoMDOT.com/drivesmartms.

    For the most current travel and traffic information, visit MDOTTraffic.com, download the free MDOT Traffic app, call Mississippi 511 or follow and like @MississippiDOT on Twitter and Facebook.

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