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MDOT to hold meeting about construction of Highway 7 roundabout

The intersection of Highway 7 and 9 could soon see some relief. The Mississippi Department of Transportation is holding a public meeting later this month with the residents of Lafayette County to discuss the proposed construction of a roundabout at State Route 7 and State Route 9W in Lafayette County.

Per MDOT public information officer Jace Ponder, the main reason for the proposal of another roundabout in Lafayette County is to allow easier pathways for commercial trucks that come and go from Oxford via Highway 7.

“It’s something that MDOT has been looking at, to put in a highway roundabout,” Ponder said. “The idea being that it would help control traffic and would give trucks room to get around it. Oxford has several roundabouts but they’re smaller and more for local traffic. Since (Highway 7) is a freight corridor MDOT wanted to make sure truck traffic could also navigate it.”

The roundabout is in addition to a previously approved construction project that would widen Highway 7 to four lanes. In 2011 MDOT announced plans to widen Highway 7 to four lanes from Belk Boulevard to where it intersects with Highway 9. In 2015 MDOT announced the project had stalled due to lack of funding and did not have a set timeline of when the project would resume.

In 2012 the cost of the widening project was estimated at $40,259,235 when MDOT first began notifying property owners of the project. Also at that time engineers with the City of Oxford began relocating utilities and spent $37,000 on design, $300,000 on sewer relocation and $460,000 on water relocation for the project.

“By being forward-looking we’re designing this project as not just a Band-Aid,” Ponder said. “It’s not just something we’re just slapping on Highway 7 and Highway 9 for safety. It’s something we’re putting in, forward-thinking it will be part of the design for the corridor.”

Ponder noted the project is scheduled to be advertised for bids in April.

At the meeting, which is scheduled for Feb. 11 from 4-6:30 p.m. at the Oxford Conference Center, citizens are encouraged to attend and will be able to talk with MDOT representatives concerning design, right-of-way acquisition and environmental issues. People will be also be able to view plans and exhibits of the proposed construction plan.