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Continuous flow intersection opens

NATCHEZ — After three years of discussion, construction and asphalt, motorists traveling around the junction of Seargent S. Prentiss and John R. Junkin drives experienced their first day on the continuous flow intersection.

The continuous flow intersection opened to the public for the first time Thursday at approximately 1 p.m.

And while some drivers were not sure about which road led where, Resident Engineer Jim Eggleston said he was pleased by what he saw.

“We were expecting some initial confusion, but it went away fairly quickly,” Eggleston said. “At first I was concerned that there would be a long learning curve for it, but from what I saw this afternoon, I was pleased.”

However, for some Natchez citizens, the term “continuous flow,” and the roads’ design raise a few questions and concerns.

A retired truck driver, Natchez citizen James Harris has lived in Natchez since 1992, and has seen his fair share of roadways across the country, he said.

Harris has been watching construction on the intersection for the past two years, and said the roadway has been a source of conversation among his friends.

“A fellow told me a week ago that this highway out here wasn’t continuous, and it’s not. You have to stop in four or six different places. Now, where do they get ‘continuous’ from?,” Harris asked.

Eggleston said he’s been hearing questions along the same lines as the one Harris asked.

“My theory is that in a normal intersection, there is a period of time when all people are stopped. In this intersection, there is always someone moving,” Eggleston said.

Jerri Goldmon and her family have been living in Natchez for two months, and on her way to and from work Thursday, she said there wasn’t much of a noticeable change in traffic.

“It’s the same,” Goldmon said. “But the flow did go a little better tonight.”

Goldmon said the new roads that are now open to drivers should be better identified to alleviate doubt for drivers accustomed to the old routes.

“They need to clarify what it more and lay out what roads lead where,” Goldmon said.

Natchez resident Jamie Gibson said the old layout of the intersection caused a few problems for her, and she’s glad to see the intersection closer to completion.

“It’s about time they got close to finishing it,” Gibson said. “Now, I’m waiting for the congestion to clean up.”

“The problem I had with the former intersection during construction was coming from John R. Junking and trying to get on 61 South,” Gibson said.

“It was easier today. I haven’t really seen too much confusion. I think they prepared everyone (for Thursday,)” she said.

Eggleston said to ensure the successfulness of the intersection’s opening, engineers from ABMB Design Company and groups and representatives from W.E. Blain & Sons, B&B Electric, Striping Traffic Control Products, the Mississippi Department of Transportation, the City of Natchez Traffic Department and the Natchez Police Department were present.

“There was a time when we had all the lights off, and we were relying on the police to direct the traffic. That was a big help out there with that complicated intersection,” Eggleston said.

“It was definitely a team effort with all these people out there. That’s why it went so well, I think.”

Eggleston said drivers should remember to pay attention to the new changes.

“Don’t drive through there by habit,” Eggleston said. “Follow the signs, and everything will be fine.”

Eggleston said there is still work to be done to the intersection, and motorists can expect to see crews laying two more layers of asphalt along with landscaping projects in the future.