This report is from a local Mississippi trip on June 14, 2006.

Some Mississippi notes (6/14)

Had the day off today, so took a trip up to Jackson and back to check on some things.

- The trip up was mostly taking pictures of the various bridges across the Pearl River. There are three very old bridges across the river that are either single-lane overhead truss or in one case a rudimentary form of suspension bridge. One of the single-lane bridges is still in use, along Rosemary Rd in far southern Hinds and Rankin Counties.

- A segment of MS 587 near Morgantown (northwest of Columbia), at a location called Red Bluff, has been relocated away from the bluff.  When I last drove this in late 2000, the roadway was on the verge of collapsing into the river valley along with much of the bluff face which had already collapsed. MDOT has since relocated about a mile of MS 587 away from the bluff to eliminate this possibility. Here's a Terraserver image from 1996 showing the location as it existed then:

- On the way up, I observed work underway to finish up the US 84 Monticello bypass. I posted an article a couple weeks ago that said the bypass would be finished by the end of this month. From what I saw, most paving and sign placement was completed...there was just some paving work left on some of the ramps. Assuming they can get that finished up and striping and reflectors put in, it might be finished in the next couple weeks.

- Took a look at signing plans for the new MS 304/Future I-69. Speed limit will be signed at 70 MPH, in keeping with Mississippi standard for long stretches of rural freeway. Control cities for US 61 are Tunica and Memphis. Control cities for I-55 are, curiosly, Hernando, Nesbit, and Memphis. Control cities for MS 304 are Hernando and Tunica. Some of the signage plans suggest that MDOT may dual-sign the route as I-69/MS 304 from the onset, with I-69 running between I-55 and the Tunica/DeSoto County line along the MS 713 spur...all this pending FHWA approval of course.

- Also saw the plans for the I-59 "S-Curve" realignment in Laurel. To answer an earlier question, the southbound weave distance between the two ramps will be approximately 750 feet. This is an improvement over the current situation, though, in that there will be an auxiliary lane between the two ramps. Outside shoulders will be 10-ft throughout the project area. Inside shoulders won't be full I-standard, but will be a much-improved 6.5-ft.

- At "The Stack" (I-20/I-55/US 49 eastern interchange), the flyover from NB US 49 to I-20 West/I-55 North still has some work left to complete, but the permanent ramps from WB I-20 to NB I-55 and from SB "US 49" (actually an unnumbered state road) to NB I-55 are complete and open. The left-turn signalized ramp from NB US 49 to WB 20/NB 55 is still open, as is the loop that provides the same movements. Widening of US 49 south to the truck scale area is underway.

- Before starting my trip back home, I shot photographs of four new interchanges built in the Jackson area since I left Mississippi in 2001. These are the I-55 interchanges at Sowell Rd and Nissan Dr (built to support the new Nissan plant), I-220 at Industrial Dr, and I-20 at Norrell Rd.

- Also followed the recently-completed Natchez Trace Pkwy between I-55 and US 49. Of interest is that the ramps to/from southbound I-55 have a trumpet interchange configuration at the NTP itself...sort of an interchange-within-an-interchange. That said, the ramps TO the NTP don't merge into NTP, but instead have intersections with stop signs that still allow people to turn in either direction.  There is no access to the NTP between I-55 and US 49. The US 49 interchange with NTP is a normal folded-diamond (ramps/loops on the northwest side).


Lastly, MDOT is working on their draft STIP for FY 2007-12.  Amongst the big changes is a change from a 3-year STIP to a 6-year STIP.  Another change they mentioned is that it would be updated every 4 years vice every 2 years, though I'm not sure how well that will go with FHWA since I thought Federal law required the STIP to be updated at least every 2 years.

That said, here are some of the major projects that will see construction begin by 2012 if everything holds together:

- Corridor V between MS 25 and MS 23.
- The rest of the MS 6 portion of Corridor V between Pontotoc and US 45.
- US 45 4-laning between Brooksville and US 82.
- MS 15 4-laning in two locations (Laurel to the Jones/Jasper County line, from Pontotoc to north of New Albany).
- The start of construction on the missing gap of MS 15 between MS 26 and US 98.
- MS 7 4-laning between MS 9W and MS 6...this one may include interchange improvements at MS 6/MS 7 as well.
- The rest of the MS 304/Future I-269 loop from I-55 to TN 385.
- A Batesville bypass for MS 6.
- MS 8 4-laning from Cleveland to Ruleville.
- The US 82 Greenville bypass.
- MS 19 4-laning from Collinsville to Philadelphia.
- A partial South Philadelphia bypass (between MS 15 and MS 19).
- A new 4-lane highway from I-55 at Byram to the relatively new I-20 interchange at Norrell Rd (west of Clinton).
- I-20 6-laning in two locations...from Clinton-Raymond Rd to MS 18, and from MS 468 to Greenfield Rd
- Two new interchanges on I-55 in the Ridgeland and Madison vicinities (one each south and north of MS 463). A related project would 6-lane I-55 from north of I-220 all the way to Canton.
- US 49 6-laning from south of I-20 to Florence.
- A Kiln bypass for MS 43.
- The Port of Gulfport connector to I-10 (MS 601/"I-310")
- A Vancleve bypass for MS 57.
- Lastly, planning money for the rest of the US 98 "Hattiesburg Bypass"...i.e. the segment west of I-59 to somewhere near MS 589.

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