Memorial work postponed for holiday season

Published 2:20 pm Friday, October 31, 2008

Phase II of the road work scheduled to update and repave Memorial Boulevard has been postponed until the beginning of 2009.

Due to the impending holiday season and the impact that scale of work will have on the local businesses, city officials, the engineering firm, Mississippi Department of Transportation engineers and the contractor have all agreed to postpone the work, Interim City Manager Harvey Miller said.

“We feel like we need to delay this project until the first of January,” Miller said.

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Conducting the work during the height of holiday shopping season would cause traffic congestion and reduce access to businesses that line Memorial Boulevard, Neel-Shaffer Senior Project Manager Jeffery Lee said.

“We just want people to know we’re not dragging our feet here,” Miller said.

The work will repave and update the remaining section of Memorial Boulevard and will be paid for by MDOT funds. It will close off some turning points, while making the remaining ones safer by adding turn lanes. A traffic light also will be repositioned.

The cost of the project will be about $1.5 million and take about 210 calendar days to complete, Lee said. The proposed completion date for the work is now Aug. 2, 2009.

Phase II of the work will involve adding curbs and increasing drainage. Turn lanes will make turning off of Memorial Boulevard safer.

The traffic light currently located at the intersection in front of Popeyes will be moved to the intersection where Elm Street and Bales Avenue meet Memorial Boulevard. Elm Street and Bales Avenue will be repositioned to have them line up better. That realignment will make the transition from one road to the other across Memorial Boulevard easier, Lee said.

To do that, right-of-way acquisition had to take place, involving land from First National Bank and Burger King, Lee said.

Mayor Greg Mitchell expects the renovations to the road to increase traffic flow upon completion. The addition of turn lanes on the road also will help keep traffic moving at a steady pace and make it safer, he said.

“This is a win, win for the city,” Mitchell said. “It’s going to be light years ahead of what we got now.”