By Alyssa Schnugg
The busy intersection of Highway 7 and University Avenue is getting closer to be made safer thanks to the work of local and state officials pushing for the much-needed funding.
House Bill 1730, passed earlier this Legislative session, contained a number of bond bills for projects around the state, including a $4 million allocation to help repair the intersection to make it safer.
Lafayette County House Rep. Clay Deweese and Sen. Nicole Atkins Boyd both worked to get the funding secured for Oxford.
“Last spring, we began meeting with House and Senate leadership to plead Oxford’s infrastructure needs,” Deweese said. “Working with our entire Lafayette County delegation, we continued to push for the project. Receiving this funding has been a significant team effort with our mayor and city officials. I can’t say enough about the leadership and labor of Mayor Robyn Tannehill in presenting our case for funding. We still have significant traffic challenges in Oxford and Lafayette County. I am looking forward to working with this team to secure additional funding in the future.”
During the 2018 Legislative Session, the city of Oxford asked for funding for the intersection and was granted $750,000.
A special fund will be set up called the “2020 Oxford Intersection Capacity and Safety Improvements Fund,” and handled by the State Treasurer. The funds will be disbursed to assist the Mississippi Transportation Commission and the Mississippi Departement of Transportation to pay for the improvements and upgrades at the intersection of University Avenue and Highway 7.
“Our community has not received this type of infrastructure support since 2015 when we received monies to assist with West Oxford Loop and Buddy East Parkway,” Boyd said. “Securing funding has been a total team effort from the Lafayette County delegation, including Ways and Means Chairman Trey Lamar, Representative Steve Massengill, Representative Jim Beckett and Representative John Faulkner. Mayor Tannehill has also been unrelenting in her efforts to help legislators understand our transportation needs.”
Lieutenant Governor Delbert Hosemann commended the Boyd and Deweese, both serving their first year as legislators.
“In a very short time and as first-year legislators, they have built excellent relationships between the communities and counties they represent at home and legislators here in Jackson. This funding shows the result of their efforts,” Hosemann said.
Two years ago, Tannehill said the estimated cost for the improvements to the intersection was about $9 million.
“We plan on asking for additional funding to go toward this project this upcoming session,” Tannehill said Friday. “But we are so grateful for Senator Boyd and Representative Deweese for their hard work on our behalf. This is a game-changer for us. It’s our top transportation priority.”
MDOT has been working with Oxford on the design phase of the project.
“Once the design is complete, we can then let it out for bids and have a better idea on the cost,” Tannehill said.