• 39°

MDOT to change its repair plans for U.S. 90

The state Department of Transportation is changing its rehabilitation plans for a busy beach boulevard.

MDOT wants to award an earlier contract for repairs to U.S. 90 and hopes to begin work on the road’s traffic signals by the end of this year.

The original plan to repair the signals, what district engineer Ricky Lee called “The Big Project,” would have a contract awarded in Spring 2007.

MDOT wants to connect the signals with a fiberoptic or radio network to help traffic flow across 26 miles of the road. It could be overridden from a central location for evacuations and other emergencies.

“The lights we now have in place are timed only, but that will improve once MDOT is able to replace them with permanent ones with the potential to help traffic flow more smoothly,” Biloxi Police Sgt. Jackie Rhodes said.

Lee said the signal project could cost between $5 million and $10 million. The entire project is estimated to cost $30 million, but could reach $50 million.

Much of the work to the roadbed will include smoothing and leveling the pavement. Curbs will be restored to the standard 6 inches; some presently are less than 4 inches high.

Other work could involve repairs to existing drainage systems, plus new systems.

“I don’t think it’s a bad thing for the big project to be next spring because no matter what you do on those full-depth pavement repairs, where you have to go through and repair the underground drainage, no matter what you do it will settle under traffic,” said Lee.