Residents, business owners eye potential effects of new interchange proposals

The Oxford Eagle By Lucy Schultze
August 28, 2002

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 now stand.

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.

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