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West Oxford Loop, Sisk Avenue road projects moving along

With the funding in place and a signed agreement between Oxford and Lafayette County, progress on two new roads to provide more connectivity within the city and county is starting to pick up.

On Tuesday, Public Works Director Bart Robinson will ask the Oxford Board of Aldermen for permission to advertise for bids for the construction of the extensions of West Oxford Loop and Sisk Avenue.

An environmental study is complete and earlier this year, necessary rights-of-way were obtained for the two roads.

West Oxford Loop will be extended to connect with Old Sardis Road near FNC Park. When FNC Park was built, traffic heading to the park doubled as Oxford’s population also increased by 26 percent since 2005. Officials hope the new road will relieve some congestion on West Jackson Avenue.

Sisk Avenue will be extended east to connect with Highway 6. With the quickly growing Oxford Commons development, the road will allow for another way to access the residential and commercial development as well as Oxford High School and Della Davidson Elementary.

The city of Oxford and Lafayette County leaders are working together to build the two new roads, which are expected to cost about $14 million.

The city raised the ad valorem tax by 3 mills over the last three years – 1 mill per year – to help cover the cost of the bond payment for the roads. The supervisors are using interest earned from its $20 million investment from the sale of Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi in 2012. Another quiet partner has also been named in helping to find funding for the roads — the University of Mississippi. While the university has not given actual dollars toward the construction of the roads, the university worked with the Mississippi Legislature that voted to give $3 million toward the construction of West Oxford Loop.

After bids are collected and the aldermen approve the lowest and best bid, construction for both roads is expected to take about 12 months.