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LOU Leaders Unite to Address Transportation Needs; Gain Funding

By Alyssa Schnugg

News editor


Lafayette County, Oxford and University of Mississippi leaders are banding together to form a transportation commission aimed at getting more state and federal funding to improve local roads and highways.

On Tuesday, the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors approved an interlocal agreement to form the Lafayette-Oxford-University of Mississippi Transporation Improvement Commission.

The Commission will be comprised of the Mayor of Oxford, or his or her designee; the president of the Board of Supervisors, or his or her designee; and the Chancellor of UM, or his or her designees.

The Commissioner of Higher Education acting on behalf of the Board of Trustees of the Institutions of Higher Learning of the State of Mississippi\ and the executive director of the Mississippi Department of Transportation shall each be ex-officio members of the Commission who will be invited to all meetings; however, they will not be entitled to vote on commission matters. Commissioners can appoint other voting members to the commission after approval from the other commission members.

In 2019, the Lafayette-Oxford-University Transportation Plan was created and approved by all three entities to serve as a framework for transportation improvements in the LOU community.

The Transportation Plan addresses existing and future needs in transportation that affect the entire LOU community.

However, those plans cost money.

The Transportation Commission is being formed to establish a single organizational entity to coordinate planning, assessment and implementation of those improvements and to seek funding as a joint effort.

“As we’re asking for funds for Highway 7 and other projects, it seems to get more traction when we have more than one party at the table,” said Board Supervisor Mike Roberts during Tuesday’s meeting. “It’s basically strength in numbers.”

The Commission shall have the following powers and authorities:

  1. To develop a strategic plan for implementation of the Transportation Plan.
  2. To pursue funding for implementation of the various components of the Transportation Plan from all appropriate sources.
  3. To develop or assist in the development of additional infrastructure necessary or appropriate to the implementation of the Transportation Plan.
  4. To enter into contracts for the design, planning, funding, implementation and maintenance of Transportation Improvements.
  5. To assist, as appropriate, in the formation and development of public improvement districts, business improvement districts and other similar systems for development and financing of Transportation Improvements.
  6. To encourage, facilitate, coordinate and enter into public-private partnerships in furtherance of implementation of Transportation Improvements.
  7. To cooperate and coordinate with MDOT, the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Transit Administration and other federal and state agencies in the development and implementation of the Transportation Plan and Transportation Improvements.
  8. To enter into contracts for professional and personal services necessary or beneficial in connection with Transportation Improvements.
  9. To hire professional staff and incur office expenses on behalf of the Commission.
  10. To apply for and accept federal and state grants, appropriations and donations.
  11. To draft and sponsor legislation which will aid implementation of the Transportation Plan.
  12. To acquire real and personal property necessary or appropriate for the development and implementation of Transportation Improvements or for related infrastructure or other appropriate purposes by purchase, gift, devise or other means.
  13. To coordinate with community and neighborhood organizations, including churches, business associations, chambers of commerce, neighborhood associations, nonprofit organizations and related government agencies.

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