A different solution to the traffic problem
In the article in the Item on June 22, it was stated that MDOT Southern District Commissioner Wayne Brown announced further postponement of road projects for the Picayune area. One of these, the widening of US 11 to 4 lanes (They used to say 5 lanes) is perhaps perversely fortunate if it results in the consideration of a viable alternative.
Mr. Brown is correct in alluding to almost destroying the town in order to save it. It would, at the very lest have a severe detrimental impact on the historic character of downtown Picayune. I believe that there is a better alternative, Which I shall attempt to outline.
Let me state parenthetically that I have absolutely no qualifications as an urban planner, road builder or highway engineer. My only qualification is having lived 82 years on this planet — more than half of that in Pearl River County — and just maybe possessed of uncommon common sense. I love this area and wish to see the best for it.
To address the proposed 4-laning from Hide-A-Way Lake to MS 43: I assume that this would require additional right-of-way acquisition and would result in traffic disruption during construction. My plan is simple. Build a new 2-lane road exiting US 11 just north of the Hide-A-Way Lake entrance, continuing west to cross Richardson-Ozona Road, thence south behind the Picayune Item and continue south behind all of the businesses fronting on US 11, to finally intersect MS 43 at the optimum placement between US 11 and the RR overpass. This only require moving or razing one structure. Almost all of this road would be through undeveloped land; therefore, the cost of right-of-way acquision should be much less than along US 11.
This should divert enough thru traffic away from the new hospital that the existing 3-lanes would be sufficient. For easy traffic flow, two or three cross streets would be required. By the way, no one-way streets. They are generally an abomination.
Now to address the saving of downtown Picayune. Concerning the widening to four or five lanes, don’t do it!!! Instead complete the 3-laning from MS 43 to Martin Luther King, Jr Blvd. The remainder of the solution: A casual look at a map shows an undeveloped corridor east of the RR from MS 43 to the site of the Old Hiway 11 bridge. Build a road with, of course, a new bridge, then upgrade Old Hiway 11 to a point south of 3rd Ave, then turn right and build an overpass to North Main St. (Picayune sorely needs and overpass somewhere near downtown in the event of a catastrophic train accident.)
Next, widen North Main to 4 lanes to West Canal. Close the 3rd Avenue crossing, which the RR has been wanting to do. In return for closing the 3rd Ave. crossing, the RR should be willing to cooperate in widening N. Main. (Don’t sacrifice too much green space between N. Main and the RR.) It appears that N. Main could just barely 4-laned between Goodyear and W. Canal without moving any utilities or destroying trees. Loss of streetside parking could be compensated for by closing the end of Williams Ave. and creating parking area.
South Main is already 4-lane divided from W. Canal to Palestine Road; therefore, the next logical phase would to extend S. Main to intersect with Hunt Street thru mostly undeveloped area. This would provide a clear route to Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.
This would not be a North-South bypass (We have that on I-59) but would provide a means for people to get around without destroying much of downtown Picayune.
MDOT stated several years ago the right-of-way cost for widening US 11 would be more than the construction cost. I believe that this plan would be cheaper and the end result would be far better.