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County provides update on Phase 2 of West Oxford Loop Extension project

The initial phase of the West Oxford Loop extension project opened in August, but the second phase of the project has yet to begin.

During Monday’s Lafayette County Board of Supervisors meeting, an update was provided on the status of the infrastructure project. County engineer Larry Britt spoke to the Board on where things stood.

“We’ve completed a preliminary set of plans,” Britt said. “Based on the plans, we have certain construction limits which determine the right-of-way. Right now, we’re working on right-of-way requirements.”

The second phase of the project will connect West Oxford Loop Extended to College Hill Road to Industrial Park Drive and is estimated to cost $6 million. The first phase connected West Oxford Loop to College Hill.

Funding for the second phase of the joint project between the County, the City of Oxford and the Mississippi Department of Transportation hit a snag earlier this year when the City opted to not fund the second phase, saving the $1 million for other infrastructure projects in Oxford, specifically the University Avenue and Highway 7 crossing.

“My concern is, we have $750,000 the state has given us — MDOT has spent in the $400,000 range in survey and design fees — and I’m hesitant to commit $1 million to a project that isn’t that one,” Oxford mayor Robyn Tannehill said during a special meeting on April 23.

The County received some help from the state earlier this year, when the Mississippi legislature awarded them with $1 million from the BP lawsuit funds to go toward the second phase. Britt asked the Board to allow the funds to be transferred to the Office of State Aid Road Construction to be used to complete design work, purchase any necessary rights-of-way and help with mitigating wetlands and the completion of an environmental study.

Britt said preliminary work has been done on the environmental document, and stated it will take trips to the Office of State Aid to get things completed. He told the Board he anticipates being two months away from beginning work.

“We can complete what we think are the requirements for right-of-way, but we can’t obtain right-of-way until the final environmental document’s done,” Britt said. “We still don’t have construction money, but we should be able to get the project to the point where that’s where we are. Ready to obtain some money for construction.”

Britt said they will look at grants as possible ways to receive construction funds. Having the BP funds handled by State Aid also allows the county to be eligible for further state and federal grants, like the federal BUILD Transportation Grant.