A major traffic improvement at the downtown New Albany exit on U.S. 78 (Interstate 22) gets under way later this month.
Concrete traffic barriers are stacked under the U.S 78 bridge over Central and Carter avenues in preparation for the work to begin March 15. The contract was awarded to Falkner-based Hill Brothers Construction Co.
The work involves widening the Central/Carter avenues overpass and the bridge over the Tallahatchie River to 40 feet and lengthening the on and off ramps at the downtown New Albany exit.
Joseph Hitt, manager of the Mississippi Department of Transportation office in New Albany, said the acceleration and deceleration ramps for the downtown exit will be extended about 200 feet to meet Interstate standards. The result will be drivers will have more space to merge into traffic along the bridges.
The project, which is expected to be completed in November 2013, will cost about $19 million.
As U.S. 78 comes up to full Interstate standards, we can expect a significant increase in traffic on the highway and a corresponding increase in business at local restaurants and hotels.
Some changes will be made in traffic flow between Carter and Central avenues. We hope the changes will improve safety in the area, which currently is the source of a number of traffic accidents.
Current plans do not involve adding traffic lights at the exit because the traffic counts are too low. We think this is shortsighted and should be reconsidered.
But we welcome the improvements. The Interstate 22 designation is important to our economy and to New Albany’s future.