From left, Dewayne Toliver, Carl Loggins and Timothy Woods work on leveling out the ground in front of The Lodge shopping center on Highway 12 in Starkville in preparation for pouring concrete Wednesday. Early work is in progress along Highway 12 for the beginning of Phase 2 of the Mississippi Department of Transportation’s second phase of work along the eastern portion of the road. Photo by: Luisa Porter/Dispatch Staff
March 16, 2018 10:57:25 AM
Early work is getting underway for the second phase of the Mississippi Department of Transportation's Highway 12 safety improvement project.
Work began earlier this week on the east side of Highway 12, as crews began putting up temporary traffic signals at the intersections of Blackjack Road, Jackson Street and Montgomery Street. In other places along the eastern stretch of the highway, crews have started to tear out existing entryways to parking lots or curbs to make improvements ahead of planned repaving.
The first phase of the Highway 12 project, which saw 2.8 miles of highway repaved from the New Light Road to Eckford Drive, finished late last year and included the installation of raised median curbs to control where traffic can turn across the highway.
Work on Phase 2 is expected to last through late August. An MDOT press release said crews will perform minimal impact work during the day, and work that requires lane closures will happen at night--similarly to how work was conducted for Phase 1. Night work, according to the release, will begin on Sunday.
MDOT District 1 Engineer Mark Holley said the turn lane adjustments, along with the installation of fiber optic integrated traffic signals -- which can work in tandem to regulate traffic flow -- should improve safety along the route.
"With the reduction of the two-way center turn lane, the number of potential collision points for crashes is reduced significantly," Holley said.
Phase 2, according to MDOT Public Information Officer Jace Ponder, will fall along 4,000 feet of Highway 12, from Eckford Drive to Russell Street. It will see the same type of improvements as the first phase, with repaving and the installation of raised median curbs.
The first phase of the project cost $8.3 million. Ponder said the second phase is $3.9 million.
MDOT introduced plans to revamp Highway 12 in early 2016, noting the road is one of the most dangerous in north Mississippi. From 2010 to 2015, Highway 12 saw 1,664 wrecks, according to a MDOT study.
In the release, Holley said night work will stop or be delayed during Mississippi State University sporting events.
Mayor Lynn Spruill told The Dispatch she's eager to see the Highway 12 project completed later this year. She said the project should help make the road safer for motorists.
Spruill also said the board of aldermen will have landscaping for the center media on the agenda for its March 20 meeting. That will include trees and low-lying shrubs.
"We're hoping to get started on that very shortly," she said. "It's a project that ought to give it (Highway 12) a completed look."
Spruill said the beautification efforts are particularly important for Highway 12, which is Starkville's busiest roadway. According to MDOT traffic counts, about 25,000 vehicles per day travel along Highway 12.
"Beautification efforts matter," she said. "It gives a sense of pride in our community. I'm looking forward to continuing the process as we go through the next years of this term. It's an important effort for us to represent ourselves and sell ourselves as Mississippi's college town."
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