By Alyssa Schnugg
Work will begin on the East Jackson Streetscape project on Monday that will provide permanent outdoor dining options for the restaurants along the street.
East Jackson will be closed to traffic between the Square and Ninth Street beginning Monday morning and will remain closed until the project is complete in August.
The 10th and 11th Streets will also be closed between Jackson and Van Buren although there is no work on these streets.
Phillips Contracting of Columbus is the prime contractor for the project.
“This is the first project that Phillips Contracting has performed for the city but they have completed similar projects for Tupelo, Senatobia, Hernando and Sardis,” said City Engineer Reanna Mayoral. “Blake Hill, vice president of Phillips Contracting, says that they are excited to be working in Oxford.”
The project will include widening the sidewalks and will provide a “courtyard” area that can be used for a variety of purposes including outdoor dining on the south side of the street. Raised planter beds and seat walls similar to those that exist in other areas of the Square will be constructed and the street lighting and drainage will be improved as well.
Although the street will be closed to traffic, pedestrian access will remain open to businesses at all times.
“We are working to communicate with all of the businesses to ensure that they are updated on the project throughout construction,” Mayoral said.
Traffic on the Square wanting to go west will need to leave the Square via North or South Lamar boulevards.
The 647-feet, one-way street includes 11 restaurants/bars.
All of the businesses are currently fronted with narrow, 4-feet sidewalks that are showing their age.
The plans for the project include removing most of the parking on East Jackson Avenue, going from 45 spaces down to 15 spaces.
The proximity of the Downtown Parking Garage, just north of East Jackson Avenue, made the possibility of converting parking spaces to outdoor seating areas possible.
The project will require extensive coordination between the contractor, business owners and a number of city departments including Oxford Utilities, Buildings and Grounds, Special Projects and the Engineering-Street Department.
“It will be a very busy summer in Oxford,” Mayoral said.