• 63°

Making progress on roads

Assistant City Engineer Reanna Mayoral said Tuesday that an environmental study should be completed this month on the West Oxford Loop extended to connect with College Hill Road. While 80 percent of the proposed road is in the county, the city offered to pay half of the expenses to extend the road that is estimated to cost about $7 million. The county agreed to partner with the city to cover the other half of the costs.

While talks of extending the road went on for years, and city officials dubbed the proposed extension the Toby Tubby Parkway, nothing had been done other than an environmental study back in 2005. But when FNC Park was built, traffic heading to the park doubled as Oxford’s population also increased by 26 percent since 2005.

However, since so much time had passed, another environmental study needed to be completed.

Once the city receives environmental clearance, the city can begin on acquiring necessary rights-of-way to build the road.

“By August, we plan to have it under contract,” Mayoral said.

Across town, the other future road will connect folks living in the northeast section of Oxford and Lafayette County to University Avenue and Highway 6. Sisk Avenue is planned to be extended east, through the electric power lines and connect with either University Avenue or Highway 6.

Mayoral said the city is working with the Mississippi Department of Transportation on where the road should connect to, whether University Avenue or the highway.

“There’s been a lot of back and forth on how to tie into 6,” she said earlier this week. “We’ve sent some drawings to MDOT and waiting to hear back from them.”

Despite the bump in the road, Mayoral said the Public Works Department still expects to have the Sisk extension under contract this summer as well.

Estimated completion date for West Oxford Loop is the spring of 2018, and in the winter of 2017 for Sisk Extended.

The city and county packaged the two roads together that have a combined cost of about $14 million. The Mississippi Legislature approved giving $3 million toward the construction of the new roads after officials with the University of Mississippi lobbied on behalf of the city and county.

The city is also preparing to begin work on relocating Price Street more to the north to allow more room for a future new activity center. The road will go through what was an old landfill. The city will spend $500,000 to have the landfill cleaned and removed this summer. Then construction to relocate the road can begin.

County projects

The county also continues to work on several road and bridge projects.

The Lafayette County Board of Supervisors adopted a Lafayette County road and bridge checklist, accepted state aid project for striping on several county roads and signed an agreement for a FLAP project for three bridges on County Road 100.

County engineer Larry Britt came before the supervisors this week and reminded the board of some money that was set aside a couple of years ago to fix two bridges on Highway 314 at the intersection with County Road 100. He said the funds had built up to about $1.5 million.

“State aid came back and said since it was on a federal route, we couldn’t use (state-aid) money so we scattered it around to about seven smaller projects,” Britt said.

Britt said at the same time he applied for a grant called the Federal Land Access Program since County Road 100 goes to Sardis reservoir.

“We qualified and submitted it about a year and a half ago,” Britt said.

Britt said it’s a very competitive program but the county was able to get $1,772,400 for construction of the two bridges, along with a third smaller bridge on County Road 100.

He said the grant is not 100 percent guaranteed, but supervisors agreed to match 20 percent of the grant for the project.

“This is $1.7 million we weren’t going to get otherwise,” Britt said.

The county is also finishing box culvert work on County Road 107. The board also took final acceptance of a state aid striping project for county roads 313, 215, 251, 202, 108, 418 and 303.

Managing Editor Rob Sigler contributed to this story.