Casino to begin landscaping intersection near interstate|[01/26/07]

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 26, 2007

People entering and leaving Vicksburg through the Interstate 20 interchange closest to the Mississippi River are to see more landscaping through a public-private partnership.

Responsibility for landscaping four triangular areas at Exit 1A will be taken over from the Mississippi Department of Transportation by the city government with Ameristar Casino as a partner, Mayor Laurence Leyens said at Thursday’s city board meeting.

The state transportation commission has allowed the city the authority to landscape the area &#8220for as long as we are willing to maintain it,” Leyens said.

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Leyens said the arrangement was the first of its kind to be allowed in the state and that the city would also be looking for corporate sponsors for other interchanges.

The city also plans to do work on the intersection one block north, to lessen the risk of accidents where Washington Street, North Frontage Road and the driveway to DiamondJacks Casino meet, Leyens said later Thursday, as guest speaker at the Vicksburg Rotary Club.

&#8220I’ve also got engineering and planning working on a traffic light for Riverfront Park,” Leyens said. &#8220The plan is to remove the on-ramp from (North Frontage Road) to Washington Street, as a sort of merge lane. We’re just going to remove it and put a traffic light there, a traffic light on the north and there’ll be a sensor pad on the driveway coming out (of DiamondJacks).”

The mayor also addressed changes planned for at least two other intersections this year.

&#8220We will be tearing down the hill at East Avenue and Mission (66),” Leyens said, also citing safety concerns. &#8220If it doesn’t succeed, there will probably be a stop sign or traffic light at that intersection.”

Traffic signals at some intersections, including the one at Clay and Monroe streets, are to be removed and replaced with stop signs. At other intersections, traffic signals will be upgraded to LED displays, continuing a program begun during Leyens’ first term in office, from 2001 until 2005.

Still other intersections will get brick crosswalks this year, as the city government undertakes a $7.8-million street-paving program, funded with part of a $16.9 million bond issue approved last year.

&#8220I’ve got 10 brick crosswalks going in our budget this year,” Leyens said. &#8220We started working on them around the main churches (downtown) and we stopped because we were going to be paving some of those streets and we decided that we were getting ahead of ourselves a little bit.”