Frontage roads could be one-way|[7/13/05]

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 13, 2005

As an Interstate 20 makeover is under way, the Mississippi Department of Transportation is also considering changing the flow on North and South Frontage roads to one-way.

“It is a proven fact that it moves traffic faster,” said Dick Hall, Central District commissioner for MDOT, noting it has been “very successful” in north Jackson along the interstates there.

Hall acknowledged a possible impact on retail businesses along the two roads and could not offer specifics on how a traffic flow redirection would affect Pemberton Square Boulevard, which South Frontage becomes at Halls Ferry Road.

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“We don’t know what the options are with that yet. Nothing has been decided. It’s all up in the air,” Hall said.

Owners of businesses along South Frontage Road who generally favor an extension of the road over Kansas City Southern Railway tracks at Old Highway 27, were undecided or opposed to traffic redirection.

“I’d have to have more conversation with MDOT about it,” said Margaret Gilmer, general manager of Vicksburg Factory Outlets.

With traffic statistics still forthcoming in the study, other businesses still see less of a need for a one-way direction on either road.

“I think the extension will be good, but I don’t think there’s enough traffic on there to make it one way,” said George Carr of Carr Buick Pontiac Cadillac GMC on South Frontage Road.

“It would be ridiculous. I would be totally and 100 percent against it. We are not Jackson,” said Alan Atwood, president of Atwood Chevrolet on North Frontage Road.

“The question I would have is how people would get here from the wrong side of the traffic flow,” said Velester Perkins, general sales manager of Vicksburg Ford Lincoln-Mercury Mazda on North Frontage Road.

Officials with River Region Medical Center’s West Campus, located on North Frontage Road, did not have immediate comment on the study. The impact of such a plan would have to be determined further, a hospital spokesman said.

The I-20 makeover began in the spring and is to continue through the winter. Patching and initial overlays of four traffic lanes, removal of fences and brush are nearly completed. Work is under way to strip and resurface the frontage roads, and two more layers of asphalt on the interstate are expected before the work is completed.

A longer-range plan includes a complete redesign of I-20 from the river bridge to Bovina, with new on- and off-ramps and a six-lane roadway.