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Transportation Master Plan Reviewed by Local Leaders

By Alyssa Schnugg
News Editor

Eric Jefferson, senior planner with Waggoner Engineering, presented a summary of the 280-page Master Transportation Plan Tuesday at the Oxford Conference Center.
Photo by Alyssa Schnugg

After meeting with local leaders, planners and citizens from the Lafayette-Oxford-University community for the last year, Waggoner Engineering presented the first draft of the LOU Transportation Master Plan Monday that showed the area’s biggest problem areas and included some recommendations on how to help improve them.

The area’s roadways were “graded” A-F on the level of service, with A-C considered “acceptable.” Not surprisingly, several roads earned an E or F grade – Old Taylor Road, South Lamar Boulevard, Highway 7 and West Jackson Avenue, which also was listed as the worst road by 1,300+ community members who completed a survey last year.

Representatives from Waggoner Engineering, that was jointly hired to develop the master plan, presented a summary of the 280-page plan to Mayor Robyn Tannehill and several Oxford aldermen, Lafayette County supervisors and University of Mississippi leaders, including Interim Chancellor Larry Sparks, as well as engineering and planning department heads for all three entities.

“We wanted to bring this to you and get your input and suggestions for any changes and make sure you’re comfortable with it before formally presenting to each board for the final approval,” said Tracy Hoffman, vice president of Waggoner.

The Master Plan’s goals including creating a transportation system that is accessible, using current resources and maintaining the integrity of existing neighborhoods. Much of the data was compiled from previous studies, like the Vision 2037 plan for Oxford, the Lafayette County Comprehensive Plan, the Downtown Parking Study and the UM Master Plan.

Some of the area’s most problematic roads and highways are under the umbrella of the Mississippi Department of Transportation, like Highway 7 and the University Avenue and Highway 7 interchange. MDOT has said plans to widen Highway 7 to a four-lane highway have been stalled due to lack of funding.

However, Eric Jefferson, senior planner with Waggoner, said MDOT recently provided a conceptual drawing to one day create roundabouts at the University Avenue/Highway 7 interchange.

“It’s only in the conceptual phase,” Jefferson said Tuesday. “They gave me no indication this is moving forward into a design phase yet.”

Some of the recommendations to improve the roads that can be improved locally, like West Jackson Avenue, including building raised medians and more bike lanes to help slow down traffic and provide space for pedestrians and bicyclists to travel more safely, encouraging less traffic on the roads, and improvements to the area’s bus system by creating more attractive shelters and synchronizing traffic signals to allow buses to travel more proficiently and keep on schedule.

Some of the suggested improvements were considered short-term fixes and others mid- to long-term fixes.

The boards agreed to allow Waggoner tweak the plan with some of the suggestions made at Tuesday’s meeting and then present it to the public at an open, public meeting at the Oxford Conference Center in early May, with the date and time to be announced as soon as it’s finalized.


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