Hearing planned on latest sketch of interchange

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 7, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; Another hearing will be held in 30 to 60 days to show the public more alternatives for an interchange at Liberty Road and Seargent S. Prentiss Drive.

Although engineers presented state transportation officials with preliminary sketches of the new alternatives, the process isn’t complete yet, said Larry L. &uot;Butch&uot; Brown, executive director of state Department of Transportation.

&uot;The public will get a chance to see (the alternatives) at the hearing,&uot; a much smaller version of a similar hearing held in October, Brown said.

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Without an interchange, extending the Natchez Trace Parkway to Liberty Road will bring in more cars that the current intersection can bear, and the bypass bridge is already obsolete and dangerous, MDOT officials have said.

Three alternatives for the interchange were presented at October’s hearing:

–Alternative A, a partial cloverleaf exchange.

–Alternative B, with straight ramps on all four sides of the interchange and a two-lane, two-way frontage road.

–Alternative C, which has four straight ramps but has only one single intersection. It would also have a two-lane, two-way frontage road.

That plan, MDOT’s preferred alternative, would take about $9.5 million and four-and-a-half years to finish.

The project &045; 80 percent of which will be paid by the federal government, with 20 percent coming from state funds &045; will also widen Liberty Road from two to four lanes.

It will relocate Camellia Drive to align with Wood Avenue, improve the intersections at Wood and Camellia and on Seargent S. Prentiss Drive at Wal-Mart, and reconstruct bridges and reduce access points along Seargent S. Prentiss Drive.

The elimination of businesses in the path of the work &045; 12 in all, under Alternative C &045; was a main concern expressed by citizens after October’s hearing, along with limited access to businesses along the corridor.

The purpose of revisiting the alternatives since then was to address businesses’ concerns, according to E. Claiborne Barnwell, a MDOT environmental engineer working on the project.

&uot;We’re trying to be as responsive to everybody’s concerns as possible,&uot; Brown said.