Saturday, January 29, 2022

University Ave./Hwy. 7 Interchange Improvements One Step Closer

By Alyssa Schnugg

News editor

The interchange at University Avenue and Highway 7 is one step closer to finally being redesigned.

During a special called meeting Monday, the Oxford Board of Aldermen approved a Memorandum of Agreement between the city, county and the Mississippi Department of Transportation.

In October, the Board was presented with the agreement from MDOT; however, the aldermen and Mayor Robyn Tannehill had issues with some of the language in that agreement and voted to allow Tannehill time to negotiate with MDOT on making some changes to the agreement.

The Mississippi Legislature authorized $4 million in general obligation bonds for the project. The city would contribute $1 million. Lafayette County is expected to contribute $1 million as well. The city also received about $1 million from two appropriation bills.

The October version of the agreement stated that MDOT would also contribute $1 million; however, it went on to stay that the city, county and MDOT would equally split any additional expenses.

The agreement approved today states that any expenses that exceed all state-appropriated and designated funds and funds contributed by the city and county, “shall be paid by MDOT.”

The last estimate done on the project three years ago was $9 million.

Tannehill also had a problem with the October agreement stating that the city would maintain University Avenue east and west of the interchange, saying the intersection is owned by MDOT and should be maintained by MDOT.

The new version states that MDOT will maintain the part of the interchange it owns and the city will maintain the property that the city owns.

The MOA is being sent back to MDOT with a few minor clean-up changes to language and is expected to be signed by MDOT officials.

The next step in the project will be the design phase.

Prior to MDOT advertising the project for bids, the city will deliver final plans, specifications and estimates for the project to MDOT in a ready-to-bid state.