Starting March 15, 2012, construction will begin on Highway 78 between Highway 30 and the Downtown New Albany exit, Carter Avenue, and Central Avenue.
Jamie McDonald, construction engineer for the Mississippi Department of Transportation’s first district, spoke to members of the New Albany Garden Club recently about the upcoming construction project and the ways that it can beautify the community.
“This is the only section in District One that we need to bring to interstate standards on Hwy. 78. There will be a traffic control plan during the construction process, the construction area may be one-lane at some times, and the lanes will be widened,” said McDonald.
He said that MDOT has some chief focuses, which are litter programs, adopt-an-interchange, economic development access projects, transportation enhancement tree planting program, welcome centers, and local beautification projects, including wildflower projects.
McDonald told the garden club members that Mississippi has a bad litter program.
“Mississippi is 30 percent higher than the average of other states, 62 percent of all litter is deliberate, 75 percent of the people who litter are between the ages of 11 and 34 and are mostly male, and in 2009, MDOT spent $3.5 million in litter removal.”
MDOT has an anti-litter program called “Think Green Keep Mississippi Clean,” which includes an inmate litter program, Myrtle the Turtle, and an adopt-a-highway program.
In terms of interchange and roadside enhancement, MDOT has planted an average of over 2,000 trees annually, provides vegetation to mitigate air and water pollution, and adds to beauty of community interchanges and roadsides.
McDonald said that there are local beautification projects that are done in which various plants are planted in the medians and along exit ramps and on ramps to add natural beauty to the roadways.
“In terms of the construction here in New Albany, the Tallahatchie Bridge will have to be widened and Carter and Central will have to be widened. There will be a barrier rail in the middle of the highway and a solid cable barrier between and Hwy. 30 and Carter Avenue that protects against head-on collisions,” said McDonald.
The project total is $19 million. The project price for the Hwy. 9 project was $87.5 million.
A few of the garden club members asked about what type of flowers are planted each year on the highways and surrounding the highways,
McDonald said that wildflowers are planted annually, but there are different planting seasons, so that depends on what is planted when He said that there is a vegetation table that MDOT goes by that has an emphasis on erosion control.
The projected end date of construction will be Nov. 2013.