MDOT sets hearing for July 10

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 19, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; A hearing will be held July 10 at the National Guard Armory on Liberty Road to show the public more alternatives for an interchange at Liberty Road and Seargent S. Prentiss Drive.

&uot;It’s important to get as many people as we can from the community involved in the public hearing,&uot; said Claiborne Barnwell, an MDOT environmental division engineer working on the project. &uot;We want to get as much input as possible.&uot;

Meanwhile, work continues on the Natchez Trace extension that MDOT officials have said is one of the factors that makes the new interchange necessary.

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&uot;We’re about 8 percent complete,&uot; said David Morrison, project engineer for Hill Brothers Construction. &uot;We’re doing dirt work now (at the Liberty Road end) and working on a bridge that’ll span St. Catherine’s Creek.&uot;

Interchange alternatives to be shown at the hearing the plan MDOT unveiled at a hearing in October &045; Alternative C, the preferred plan.

That alternative would include four straight ramps, one single intersection and a two-lane, two-way frontage road.

Another alternative to be unveiled at the July hearing will be what Barnwell termed a &uot;modified loop&uot; interchange. A map of that alternative should be available at least two weeks before the hearing, Barnwell said.

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.

That modified alternative will have less impact on nearby businesses, Barnwell said.

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

4Alternative A, a partial cloverleaf exchange.

4Alternative B, with straight ramps on all four sides of the interchange and a two-lane, two-way frontage road.

4Alternative C, which would take about $9.5 million and four-and-a-half years to finish.

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 Barnwell.

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.

Despite the time it has taken to hold hearing and come up with new designs, Barnwell said MDOT will attempt to construct the interchange as soon as possible.

&uot;We don’t want it to still be under construction when the Trace is completed&uot; by an estimated date of December 2004, Barnwell said.

Still, he added, hearings are required by law. &uot;Besides,&uot; he said, &uot;it’s the right thing to do.&uot;