April 3, 2013 10:39:24 AM
Mississippi Department of Transportation officials are developing a major Highway 182 improvement project which could begin this summer, Starkville City Engineer Edward Kemp announced Tuesday.
The project, estimated at approximately $2 million, includes overlaying the road's surface within city limits, developing landscape islands, improving sidewalk access and re-pouring driveways.
Bid advertisements are expected to begin in June, and construction could start shortly after work contracts are signed with MDOT. Until then, officials will continue hammering out the design and details associated with the rehabilitation, Kemp said.
"Construction is tentatively scheduled to finish early spring of next year," he said. "If the weather cooperates, it could be done this calendar year."
Highway 182 - formerly U.S. Highway 82 - originally served as a primary two-lane thoroughfare through the state. A portion of the road was widened to three lanes within city limits. Even though the U.S. Highway 82 bypass was constructed, the road is still heavily used by local traffic.
Overlaying the road will provide a smoother ride for commuters. Aldermen acknowledged the road's dilapidated condition Tuesday.
In an ideal world, Kemp said, MDOT would have enough money to facilitate a project which would completely rebuild the road, but budget restraints and growing statewide projects are forcing the group to keep this project's scope prudent.
Kemp said MDOT is slated to use new saw-and-seal overlay methods to help reduce deterioration.
"They'll essentially mark where all of the (road's) joints are, level it, overlay it and come back with a saw and cut where the joints are. That will provide the asphalt with flexibility. They'll then come back in and put in asphalt sealer to retain that flexibility," he said. "You'll still probably hear that rhythmic beat as you travel down, but it will not deteriorate as much at each one of those joints. Every time it rains, they fill with water and chip away. That's where tires start going down.
"(MDOT officials) said they have done this on several other projects in the state, and it has been a success," Kemp added. "In the past, they would come in, overlay and leave."
Landscape islands create an additional buffer between sidewalks and roadways. Within those buffers, the city could plant trees or other shrubbery. Sidewalk improvements will be included within landscape islands. Those improvements, Kemp said, will comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the city will also try to make newly poured driveways compliant. Newly created sidewalk corridors could be tied to future Safe Routes to School grants, he said.
In order to prevent delays, utility pole relocation will not occur, and areas with existing sidewalks will not be improved.
"MDOT has to have this project completed by March or April 2014," Kemp said. "(We told MDOT) we don't want to deter what you have on the board. We can look at improving walkability at a later time through another project."
During discussion, Ward 1 Alderman Ben Carver called the project the most positive news he's heard in his four years on the board, while Ward 6 Alderman Roy A. Perkins said it could provide one of the greatest improvements the road has seen in a substantial amount of time.
"It's a terrific step forward for our community," Ward 2 Alderman Sandra Sistrunk said.
Aldermen and Mayor Parker Wiseman applauded Northern Mississippi Transportation Commissioner Mike Tagert for his involvement with the project. Tagert, a Starkville resident, worked as an intermediary between MDOT and the city.
Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch
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