Though no one denies that a change is
badly needed, Oxford-area residents hold a variety of opinions
on how a new interchange at Highway 6 and West Jackson Avenue
should be configured.
The Mississippi Department of Transportation
fielded questions and concerns from 86 local residents Tuesday
evening as part of a public meeting on the proposed interchange.
"We felt like it went really well,"
said Jimmy Dickerson, district engineer at MDOT's Batesville
office. "We got a lot of good ideas. Two or three of them
were a combination of the things we had presented."
Dickerson said the suggestions gleaned
from attendees' comment cards will be used as MDOT engineers
draft revised alternatives for the interchange, which is still
in the early planning phases.
At Tuesday's meeting, MDOT engineers presented
three alternative designs for the project, all of which involve
the construction of a bridge to take West Jackson Avenue over
Highway 6 and meet the frontage road on the other side. The
alternatives offer different ways of dealing with the steep
incline that now brings Jackson Avenue up to meet the highway.
Two of the options would involve moving
the intersection east towards town, where the ground is less
steep, by curving Jackson Avenue southward to come through the
area where Captain D's restaurant and the old Shoney's building
This design would also curve West Oxford
Loop eastward to meet Jackson Avenue and eliminate the existing
Jackson/Highway 6 intersection all together. West Oxford Loop
business owners say they are concerned that this design would
rob them of business they now enjoy from passing motorists.
"I won't have any traffic unless they're
coming to see me," said Hunter's Hollow owner Donny Guest,
adding he is most concerned with making the intersection safe
through the addition of an overpass.
Guest and other business owners proposed
retaining a T-intersection with West Oxford Loop rather than
making it out-of-the-way for passing motorists by diverting
Jackson Avenue eastward.
A third proposed alternative would move
the intersection eastward only slightly, involving a diamond-shaped
interchange instead of the loops included in the other two designs.
Though the design looks simpler, it would
actually be just as complicated as the other two because the
steep incline would make a retaining wall necessary. Because
it is in almost the same location as the existing intersection,
it would also involve detours and complex scheduling to keep
traffic moving around the construction.
In bringing the frontage road south, the
third alternative would eliminate trees between the road and
the highway that now serve as a buffer for four houses located
along the frontage road.
Though the sound of car crashes below tells
the residents something needs to be done, they are bracing for
the changes a new interchange would bring.