By Alyssa Schnugg
The Lafayette, Oxford and University community now have an official plan to guide transportation projects for the next 20 years.
The Oxford Board of Aldermen approved the plan on Tuesday during its regular meeting and the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors approving it on Monday during their regular meeting. Chief Operating Officer Bart Robinson told the Board that the University of Mississippi has said they are “ready to sign off on it.”
Waggoner Engineering firm was jointly hired to develop the master plan by Oxford, Lafayette County and University of Mississippi leaders last year.
During a public meeting in May, some residents expressed concern about a proposed road that would begin at County Road 326 and cross over the South Campus Rail Trail.
Mayor Robyn Tannehill made sure to point out Tuesday that the proposed road has been removed from the plan.
“This our first, joint LOU truly equal project,” Tannehill said. “I’m very excited.”
Alderman Janice Antonow added that the entire process also included a lot of public input.
About the plan
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.
Some of the recommendations to improve the roads that can be done 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.
The Master Plan lists the area’s most dangerous roads. The intersection that has had the most wrecks from 2013-2017 is the Highway 6 and Thacker Heights Drive with 135 crashes. The intersection of Highway 6/West Jackson Avenue was No. 2 with 101 crashes. The plan offers recommended improvements to several of the top crash intersections which include additional traffic signals, stop signs or adding turning lanes.
The plan also includes information on how to work toward receiving federal and state funds, as well as using more “creative” funding like involving developers in the development of new roads or improving existing roads.
Some of the suggested improvements are considered short-term fixes and others mid- to long-term fixes.
The entire Master Plan is available to view on the city’s website.