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Hwy. 6 Interchange: Love it or Not, It’s Here to Stay

As construction continues on the Highway 6 interchange at Jackson Avenue, many Oxford citizens wonder about the decision to start such a project and if its fruition will actually benefit the flow of traffic on that side of the city based on the growth patterns the town has seen in the last few years.

IMG_8590David Evans is the assistant construction engineer for District 2 and said Oxford officials and MDOT have been looking at different solutions to relieve the congestions and increase safety at Jackson Avenue for several years. “The original project was going to be a grade separation interchange with bridges, ramps and loops,” Evans said. “Due to budget constraints and the amount of land the interchange would have required this option was canceled. MDOT and Oxford came up with a proposed plan to modify the intersection with the addition of additional turn lanes and increased storage capacity.”
Evans said the project costs $5,565,898 and is funded by a Federal Highway Administration grant with matching funds coming from MDOT.
“The estimated completion date is August 2015,” Evans said.

Screen Shot 2014-12-18 at 11.01.15 AM
A screenshot of a video from MDOT showing how traffic will move around Jackson Avenue and Highway 6.

From a computer-generated diagram of the completed Interchange in action, the process of turning onto Jackson Avenue from the west will be an entirely different experience for those used to the present conditions. Evans explained the reasoning behind the project’s planned design.
“The project is adding turn lanes and acceleration lanes. Once completed cars turning on to Jackson Avenue from the west on Highway 6 will be able to make the turn movement without having to yield to traffic on west bound Highway 6,” Evans said. “The storage length in the turn lane will be increased to prevent traffic from backing up on Highway 6. Cars turning off of Jackson going west on Highway 6 will have continuous movement and cars turning off of westbound Highway 6 onto Jackson will have continuous movement. With continuous movement onto the intersection, congestion should be greatly reduced and the safety of the moving traffic increased.”
While relieving congestion and improving safety at Jackson Avenue may be the main focus of the project’s design, many people are skeptical about the interchange’s ability to follow through with that mission since the original plan was scrapped.
John Trezevant, president of Trezevant Realty Corporation, is one such person. Trezevant is a local developer and is currently working on The Galleria II, a 280,000 sq. ft. retail development on Jackson Avenue not far from the new interchange, and a change in traffic patterns could affect his business, either positively or negatively.
“I have an office in Oxford and I’m in town several days a week,” Trezevant said. “And to me, the new interchange looks mindless and as though the new design was intended to save money and not save lives.”
Trezevant said he worked tirelessly with MDOT and their staff to ensure the interchange was one that would improve traffic and our citizen’s lives and not make things worse.
A screenshot of a video from MDOT showing how traffic will move around Jackson Avenue and Highway 6.
A screenshot of a video from MDOT showing how traffic will move around Jackson Avenue and Highway 6.

“It was also intended to access quite a large area south of Highway 6,” Trezevant said. “It was supposed to have tied Chucky Mullins Drive, the University Research Center and projects that we were going to do in and around Fielder Welding, all the way down to the Thacker traffic light. And it could still happen with a positive design that creates a frontage road that goes from Chucky Mullins all the way down to Thacker. There are a couple of encroachments in the way, but it still makes sense to do it that way.”
Trezevant said the original design had included a flyover interchange that accessed the southern side of the highway.
“(The southern side) is where the city is going to grow,” he added. “But it also allowed for much easier ingress/egress off of Highway 6 onto Jackson going in all directions. Now, it seems like much of the design is centered on seeing how we can get cars to come at each other.”
Trezevant doesn’t see where the new design is going to help anything.
“It doesn’t appear that we’ve fixed the problem,” he said. “It looks to me like we’ve designed a facility that saved money over the one that was planned and basically created nothing beneficial.”
Trezevant said that what we have now is what we have, and we’ll just have to get used to it.
“Whether or not in the future they can make enhancements to improve it,” he said, “and prove access to other parts of town or not, remains to be seen.”
Angela Rogalski is a HottyToddy.com staff reporter and can be reached at angela.rogalski@hottytoddy.com.

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