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Flyover bridge opening to traffic this week

NATCHEZ — Nearly three years after construction first began, travelers will be able to fly over the intersection of D’Evereux and Seargent S. Prentiss drives Thursday.

Construction of a flyover bridge at the intersection began in Aug. 2010 and was intended to direct 18-wheeler truck traffic over the intersection instead of forcing truck drivers to make a hard left turn. The flyover is also expected to shorten delay times at the intersection.

Mississippi Department of Transportation District Engineer Albert White said traffic lanes will be open on the bridge beginning Thursday.

“The main movement is that traffic going southbound on U.S. 61 toward the hospital will be moved over onto the new flyover bridge,” White said. “The rest of the traffic will be in the same location other than a few shifts that will just be a few feet over, but they’ll stay in the same patterns.”

After Thursday, White said travelers will no longer be able to turn left onto Seargent S. Prentiss at the traffic signal.

“That left turn will no longer be there, but traffic coming from Lynda Lee (Drive) will still be coming through that intersection,” he said.

White said the prime contractor is currently preparing the bridge for painting. Crews are also placing a concrete island on the northbound lane and working on landscaping by placing sod in the open areas around the bridge.

White said eventual lane closures on the bridge will occur in the following weeks as crews work to install curbs and gutters, street lighting and other finish work.

“We were hoping to have the lights on before we opened, but we’re trying to keep the project open and move it forward,” White said. “We don’t feel there will be any safety hazards without the lights.”

White suggested all travelers pay close attention to signs or directions as crews continue to work on the project.

“We advise that people pay attention to the changes to make sure they see any signs or anything they need to see,” White said. “Just don’t be distracted as you drive through and pay attention.”

The $19.7 million project is scheduled to be completed by October or early November.

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