Frontage road fencing to stay down|[4/22/05]

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 22, 2005

The news for those who lamented the frequent disrepair of fencing along Interstate 20 around Vicksburg is this: Portions being removed will not be replaced.

“It had gotten pretty unsightly in some areas. It made it difficult to keep the grass mowed in some areas,” said Carl Middleton, assistant district engineer for the Mississippi Department of Transportation.

Work began on a 15-month, $8.2 million contract with APAC Mississippi in March. Long stretches of the chain link fence on the south side of the Interstate have already been removed and areas overgrown with trees and brush have been cleared.

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Replacing the fence will be selectively placed shorter, stand-alone posts.

The posts are 3 feet tall and will be placed every 6 feet, said Jeff Curtis, project engineer. They will provide a barrier against vehicles reaching the four lanes of I-20 from frontage roads, but will not halt debris, animals or pedestrians.

That shouldn’t be a problem, Middleton said, adding that the I-20 corridor through Vicksburg was the only place in the region that had the chain-link fencing.

Curtis said animals in traffic have been considered. “We’re concerned about it, but you know, if a deer wants to cross, it’s going to find its way anyway. I don’t know that the fence stopped much of anything,” he said.

The larger issue was the unsightliness of the fence. “(It) was damaged in so many areas up and down the interstate. It was becoming an eyesore,” Curtis said.

The project timetable calls for fence removal and roadside clearing to be completed in two months and the whole project to be completed by summer 2006.

It was not clear when posts would be placed. “Anywhere that traffic would have a tendency to go from the frontage road to the interstate, we’re putting up median posts,” he said.

The contract also calls for repairing the existing concrete pavement, which has also begun. Afterward, there will be milling and overlaying with new asphalt pavement in both sets of lanes.

In addition, J&V Communications Services Inc. won a contract for $1.1 million for repairs to lights along the stretch from the river bridges to the Beechwood area.

A larger plan, to six-lane I-20 on the city’s perimeter and redesign and rebuild exits and on-ramps is several years in the future, Central District Highway Commissioner Dick Hall has said.