Traffic on Oxford streets between highways
314 and 334 will be flowing more smoothly next year, thanks
to a planned intersection upgrade by the Mississippi Department
City engineers were surprised to hear a
few weeks ago of MDOT's plans to fund and oversee the project,
which will cost an estimated $600,000 and take about 18 months
Bob Mabry, assistant state traffic engineer,
said portions of Jackson Avenue, 9th Street and University Avenue
are part of a "state designated route" that acts as
a continuation of Highway 314 (Old Sardis Road). While the city
maintains the streets, he said, MDOT is responsible for the
"We systematically go through and
try to upgrade all the signals on our system to help move traffic
through in a more efficient manner," Mabry said.
The upcoming project will replace wire-hung
stoplights with iron poles and coordinate the timing on lights,
making them more responsive to traffic. The project will also
add handicap ramps to sidewalks.
Among the intersections included in the
plan is the three-way intersection at Van Buren Avenue and 9th
Street. A new left turn lane on 9th Street will accommodate
drivers turning toward the Square in front of St. Peter's Episcopal
City staff are asking MDOT and Neel-Schaffer
engineers to carefully consider their plans to eliminate the
stoplight at University Avenue and South 8th Street and to rework
the intersections at Eastgate Shopping Center (Big Star) and
Old Town Shopping Center (old Kroger).
Out of concerns that two stoplights in
a row between the two shopping centers are causing traffic to
back up on Highway 7, MDOT is planning to eliminate the easternmost
of the two stoplights. The plan would also change both the entrances
and exits at the two centers from one-way to two-way.
At three intersections - Jackson Avenue
at College Hill Road, University Avenue at Highway 7, and Four
Corners - wide-angle cameras will be installed as part of MDOT's
Intelligent Transportation System (ITS).
The cameras will allow MDOT to monitor the timing on the traffic
signals from its Jackson headquarters, and could also give the
Oxford Police Department a new tool for controlling traffic
and catching speeders.
Mabry, who works with ITS for the highway department, said live
images of the intersections will be shown online at www.mstraffic.com,
like those already being broadcast from Jackson and the Gulf
Coast. The cameras will be linked by fiber optic cable.
The new traffic signals will also be equipped
with technology that allows fire trucks, police cars and ambulances
to change the light and clear their lane by pushing a button
as they approach an intersection.
The project is slated to begin in November. Meanwhile, crews
are at work expanding the final section of West Jackson Avenue,
between Oxford Mall and Heritage Drive.
Bart Robinson, assistant city engineer,
said it's still too early to give a firm estimate on when the
Jackson Avenue project might be done. He expects it to take
about a year, with work impeding traffic for at least eight
- Lucy Schultze can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org