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Highway 11 widening work, bridge replacement will affect businesses

As the project moves even closer to becoming a reality, the widening of Highway 11 will result in a lot of changes within Picayune.

Not only will there be additional lanes through a major part of town, sidewalks and walking paths will be added for pedestrian safety.

However, as part of the widening project and replacement of a bridge, a number of businesses will either have to change the layout of their parking lot, or relocate completely.

MDOT Preconstruction Engineer Keith Steele said that the first phase of the project is the widening of Highway 11 from the intersection of Lakeshore Drive to the intersection of Cayten Street. It’s still projected to start in the spring of next year, provided utility lines are relocated in time.

Steele said that every effort was used to ensure MDOT’s existing right of ways will be used in the widening project. There were some areas along the project area north of the intersection of Richardson Ozona Road where additional right of way had to be purchased, Steele said.

However, a number of businesses are currently using the existing MDOT right of way for parking. When the road is widened, alternate means will need to be employed to provide parking.

In regard to the widening of the highway, Steele said he does not expect any business within the project’s path to have to relocate, so long as they can make those parking accommodations.

The big changes will come when the project moves to the next phase, replacing the bridge that crosses the East Hobolochitto Creek. A new bridge will be constructed on the east side of the existing bridge and Highway 11 will have to be shifted east from the area of Cayten Street to the new bridge as a result. Steele said that project, which is not expected to begin until sometime in 2020, will mean a number of businesses will need to relocate, including Dockside Seafood, Sun Guard Auto Works and other businesses from the intersection of Carroll Street to Dr. Walter E. Gipson’s medical facility. Steele said Dr. Gipson’s facility should be unaffected due to a retaining wall that will be built as part of the project.

On the south end of the bridge, GTM Building Supply and a few residential properties will be affected by the shifting of the highway to meet up with the new bridge, he said.

The Knights of Columbus hall on Carroll Street should not be affected, Steele said.

Any business that has to relocate will be compensated, Steele said.

A sidewalk will be part of the projects, both in the widening of Highway 11 and replacement of the bridge. That sidewalk, when complete, will run on the east side of the highway from the intersection of Fourth Street to the bridge, including a walkway across the bridge on the east side, which will connect to a sidewalk on the east side of the highway that will run to Cayten Street. From there, sidewalks will be installed on the east and west sides of the highway all the way to the intersection of Highway 43 North, Steele said.