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Highway 7 in Oxford Expanding to Four Lanes in 2020

Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 3.23.19 PMThere will be a new expansion coming from Highway 7 S. to Highway 6 E. There is an existing Highway 7 that connects to the four lane that feeds to Highway 7 N. as well as the old Highway 7 that Baptist Hospital is located on. However in 2020, the existing two-lane highway will be changing to four lanes to accommodate the steady increase of volume of traffic.

“Volume of traffic is increasing so the four lane is needed. Traffic is growing and more people are working and living in Oxford,” said Kelly Standard, Branch Director of Mississippi Department of Transportation in Batesville.

MDOT is a year into the project, currently in the buying stages of rights of way that are along the expected expansion as well as the moving of utilities. Rights of way, the legal right to pass along a specific route through grounds or property belonging to another, is perhaps the most complicated part of the project.

Land is needed to make the road wider and in order to do so, the rights of way that are primarily privately owned must be bought. Rights of way that are bare land verse homes are the easiest to buy however MDOT faces having to relocate some people whose homes fall along the right of way. MDOT must look at a map of the rights of way and the appraisal values and base their offers off of that. This process is expensive as Oxford property values are rising and higher than perhaps a highway expansion outside of the town.

The estimated cost of the project, expected to start construction in 2020, could run up to $50 million. This cost includes the buying and moving of utilities, right of ways and highway design. The cost of highway design alone can be about $1 million.

Margaretta Carter is a HottyToddy.com staff reporter and can be reached at mdcarte1@go.olemiss.edu.

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