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July 10, 2010 6:57:00 PM
COLUMBUS -- Owners of businesses along Lincoln Road, and other areas, had mixed feelings about construction of a Highway 45 bypass, which likely would mean relocation of their business.
And a local expert, who studies the impact of bypasses on small towns, urged city officials to consider all impacts of a bypass, noting more planning is necessary .
"As long as they don''t just throw me to the wolves and let me starve, (I don''t mind the bypass)," David Scott, owner of Styles by David Scott on Lincoln Road, said, noting he expects assistance in relocating his business, if it''s in the route of the bypass.
"If they have to come through, they can come through," said Johnny Johnson, owner of J&J Welding Inc., located at 1277 Highway 373. "They need to put something to bypass that new (middle) school (under construction)."
"It''s definitely going to impact the business," Scott Whitehead, the owner of R&S Antiques and Used Furniture, located at 136 Lincoln Road, said of a bypass. "I hope we don''t (have to relocate); I really hope we don''t."
MDOT officials stress two bypass routes -- each of which begins at Waters Truck and Tractor on East Plymouth Road and ends at the north gate of Columbus Air Force Base on Highway 45 North -- are under consideration and a final route has not been chosen.
Because officials are considering two routes, which vary only slightly, it is difficult to predict which businesses or residential properties significantly would be impacted, but preliminary estimates show the bypass relocating 38 or 39 residences, depending on which plan is chosen. Also, up to 12 businesses could be relocated.
"I''m not saying it''s a good or bad idea at this point," John Poros, director of the Carl Small Town Center, a non-profit organization within the College of Architecture, Art, and Design at Mississippi State University, said of the bypass. "There are some aspects of this that have not really been studied. Is land around the new bypass going to be rezoned and how is it going to be rezoned? Are we going to protect this land around the bypass, so it becomes more of a parkway bypass?
"I think there are all these issues that, at least in the preliminary (bypass) report (released by the Mississippi Department of Transportation), weren''t expounded on," Poros, who studies the effect of highway bypasses on small towns, continued. "They''re really important issues for the town itself. Although it''s limited access, which is going to help in many ways in terms of businesses already in town and along Highway 45, there''s the question: How does the bypass affect land along those roads? A bypass is not automatically a good or bad thing. It''s a question of how you do it and what do people want to get out of it? Think about land use as part of this study."
Poros also bemoaned the lack of additional alternatives presented by MDOT, which listed three choices -- the two bypass routes or taking no action.
"From the preliminary study that was put out by MDOT, it really just looked at the path of the bypass," Poros explained "And there really was no other alternative to look at -- are there ways to just improve Highway 45? Are there truck routes or roads in back of the commercial strip that could be improved in order to get traffic through town? There might be other solutions out there."
The project is not expected to be completed until at least 2020. After the route is finalized, preliminary work, including surveys, land acquisition and environmental assessments will begin.
Construction likely will begin within three years, Columbus Mayor Robert Smith earlier said.
The bypass project was initiated in 2003. Copies of the MDOT bypass study can be obtained for review from either City Hall or the Lowndes County Courthouse.
bob commented at 7/12/2010 11:25:00 AM:
John Poros is right - this proposed bypass project requires a lot more study. By the way the article states that 38 or 39 residences may have to be relocated. In addition to these single family residences, there is also an apartment complex where over 100 units will have to be relocated........not to mention over a thousand acres of wetlands and wildlife destruction. Is the EPA / DEP aware of this? This bypass is proposed to run right thru the most dense part of North Columbus with several residential neighborhoods, apartments, a new school and churches. A ridiculously chosen location with a $200 million dollar (or more) price tag at a time when the state is cutting budgets for much more worthy items....education for one. I think that certain politicians are waiting to take bows and can't wait to proclaim that they deserve credit and kudos for "the bypass". Be careful, it could be your greatest folly.
kj commented at 7/12/2010 12:09:00 PM:
It's disingenuous at best to call this "the most dense part of North Columbus."
bob commented at 7/12/2010 12:38:00 PM:
Why? According to the Columbus Police Department, there are more accidents at the intersection of Bluecutt Road and Hwy. 45 than any other intersection in the city. Now, you're going to add the biggest connector to the bypass thru this same intersection? It must be fairly dense if they have to relocate 39 homes and 150 apartment units plus the bypass will run within 100 feet of some air force personnel homes near the Oakdale section.
kj commented at 7/12/2010 1:20:00 PM:
Why? Because one can look at a map and note that there are denser parts of North Columbus. I also don't believe that density is necessary accurately measured by the number of accidents at an intersection. While that could be the strongest factor, it might also be that the intersection is poorly designed, controlled, or that one or more of the residential areas nearby are populated with people more likely to pay attention to their cell phones than their driving. There's also a very noticeable speed change that manifests itself at Bluecutt; my perception is that it's about 10 MPH faster north of Bluecutt than south even though both are marked 45 MPH.
However, I think the design of the intersection is the most likely culprit. Traveling east on Bluecutt and turning south on 45 it is difficult to judge which lane southbound traffic occupies and there is a very short merge lane. Southbound on 45 turning east on Bluecutt there's not enough marked turning lane and northbound traffic is turning east onto Bluecutt simultaneously with only a merge sign rather than a light.
I'm not discounting that disruption caused by the bypass will be significant for those who have to relocate, but I have doubts that you could cut a bypass-wide swath through another portion of town and disrupt fewer existing homes and businesses.
bob commented at 7/12/2010 1:46:00 PM:
Agreed, the disruption will be significant. Plus, the cost will be sky high for an unnecessary bypass that already really exists in another form - the current back roads which already exist and all local residents know about if they need to "bypass" highway 45. Why construct a monstrosity at $200 million plus when you don't have to? Why relocate 200 residences? Why disrupt over a thousand acres of wildlife and wetland areas? Why create a ghost town along current highway 45? I can't wait to see that eyesore! If you really want to divert traffic away from Columbus, just spend a few thousand dollars on signage right outside of Tupelo going south / west that better outlines to truckers / traffic, "if you're going to West Point, Starkville, MSU, Louisville, Route 25, Jackson go to Alternate Route 45....NOT 45.
doj commented at 7/12/2010 6:50:00 PM:
Just for the thought - I wonder where those 200 families are going to relocate to-- Caledonia or New Hope. I'm suprised they are going to let all those votes get out of town.
bob commented at 7/13/2010 8:36:00 AM:
DOJ, Wow.....what an interesting question, especially with Columbus shrinking in population according to the latest census data!