The summer has proved to be busy for road crews, with roughly $14.3 million in projects either under way or expected to get under way on the Northside.
This week, crews were repairing sidewalks along Lakeland Drive by the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC), one of seven Northside streets projects included in a $9.9 million road repaving contract funded by the one-percent infrastructure tax. Farther south, workers were paving over a section of North State Street, from Woodrow Wilson Avenue to Fortification Street, as part of a $4.4 million project funded with federal and local dollars.
The $9.9 million contract was awarded to Dickerson and Bowen in March.
Contractors have wrapped up overlaying four streets included in the contract, including portions of East Northside Drive, Old Canton Road, Canton Mart Road and Pear Orchard Road.
“We’ve got a lot going on,” said interim Public Works Director Charles Williams. Work includes milling and overlaying the roadways and bringing sidewalks into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
On Lakeland, crews will focus on the road and sidewalks between Old Canton and the I-55 North frontage road.
“We’re going to replace the sidewalk in front of UMMC. That will take about two weeks, and then we will pave it,” Williams said.
Once Lakeland wraps up, Dickerson and Bowen will turn its attention to Old Canton, where crews will begin another round of sidewalk repairs, followed by milling and overlaying of the street
That work will affect a section of Old Canton running from Meadowbrook to North State.
“They will be taking out sections of the sidewalk that are not ADA compatible,” Williams said. “At least one of the sidewalks has to be compatible.”
As part of federal law, the city is required to bring sidewalks into compliance with ADA standards as part of any repaving project.
To bring a sidewalk up to standards, that means removing sections that are broken to improve wheelchair and walker accessibility. It also means installing truncated domes, features that help the visually impaired know when they have reached an intersection.
“With the sidewalks on Old Canton, it will take quite a bit of work. It could easily take a month,” Williams said. “It could easily be September before the street is paved.”
The $9.9 million also included milling and overlaying a second section of Old Canton, from Canton Mart to Ridgewood Road as well as sections of Canton Mart (Old Canton to I-55 North), Northside Drive (Ridgewood Road to I-55), Jefferson Street (Carlisle Street to Poplar Boulevard) and Pear Orchard Road (County Line Road to Old Canton).
Roadways included are some of the busiest on the Northside and serve some of the area’s most popular destinations.
Lakeland averages around 25,000 vehicles a day and serves UMMC, the Fondren Business District and the Meridian at Fondren apartment complex. Old Canton between Canton Mart and Ridgewood sees 20,000 vehicles a day and serves Parham Bridges Park.
Canton Mart averages around 15,000 a day and provides access to the Canton Mart shopping center; Northside sees about 10,000 a day and serves Highland Village and Maywood Mart; Old Canton from Meadowbrook to North State averages around 7,300 a day; and Pear Orchard sees 6,100 daily, state traffic count maps show.
Jefferson, on the other hand, averages around 930 vehicles a day. However, it is one of the worst streets on the Northside, in terms of overall condition.
The city council approved hiring Dickerson and Bowen at its March 17 meeting, and construction began weeks later.
Pear Orchard “was the first street we did back in May,” Williams said. After that, crews moved to Canton Mart and the first section of Old Canton, and then East Northside Drive.
Meanwhile, crews have made significant progress on the North State Street project. The $4.4 million project, which runs from Woodrow Wilson to Fortification, including milling and overlaying the street, installing curb and gutter and repairing sidewalks.
Work is being funded with a combination of federal FAST Act dollars, as well as a local match.
Construction is expected to wrap up in September, Williams said.
Construction there is expected to wrap up in September, Williams said.
While those projects are moving forward, public works officials are unsure when construction would begin on anorther Northside road project designed to improve Woodrow Wilson Avenue.
Plans include adding a third lane along the roadway from the I-55 southbound exit to North State Street. From there, repaving improvements would be carried along the roadway to Mill Street, Williams explained.
A bike path also will be added for pedestrian use.
The third lane would allow motorists to merge more easily onto Woodrow Wilson and provide a “straight shot to State Street, without them having to move over,” Williams said previously.
The project was designed by Michael Baker International. Engineers expect work to cost around $2.7 million, an amount that is coming from a $2 million federal grant and $700,000 in local dollars.
“We have opened bids two times, and both times they’ve come in over budget,” Williams said.
Williams said the city has not decided when work will be bid out again, and was in talks with the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) regarding the project.