SURRATT: South Frontage extension offers easy route to eastern end of city

Published 4:00 am Friday, January 28, 2022

Have you been on the South Frontage Road extension yet?

I know a few folks have because I’ve seen cars traversing the bridge spanning the Kansas City Southern Railroad tracks.

I’ve been on it twice since the Mississippi Department of Transportation opened it several weeks ago. The first time was on a pizza run for my wife and daughter. The second time was as a passenger in my wife’s car on the way to eat at a restaurant off East Clay Street.

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It’s really a good ride and a nice change from going on Interstate 20, especially if you live in the south end of town and are going somewhere on East Clay Street. You don’t have to worry about heavy traffic on I-20 or some 18-wheeler bearing down on you as you try to enter the highway from Clay Street. There is a section of South Frontage road that’s still a bit rough from the traffic of heavy equipment that used the road during the extension’s construction, but I believe that will eventually be repaired once other MDOT projects in the area are completed.

There is, however, in my mind a problem that I believe needs to be corrected. As eastbound drivers cross the bridge, they encounter a sharp curve as they come off the span. I’m no engineer and I’m by no means a safety expert, but it seems there should be some type of railing on the curve’s west lane (and east lane) to keep someone from going airborne if they take the curve too fast.

I know there are signs approaching the bridge and on the bridge setting the speed limit at 30 mph, but having been an observer of the human condition for a long time and knowing human nature, there’s always the temptation to move a little faster than the posted speed and someone, someday, will come off the bridge — or approach it — not make the turn and end up in the large ditch east of the bridge or in the open area on the west side.

I hope the problem gets corrected.

But enough of my old man’s concern for safety. It has taken a long time for the east and west ends of South Frontage Road to be joined and business along East Clay Street has suffered. All you have to do is drive along the street and look at the empty buildings.

We began to see some changes in the area before the extension was completed with the purchase of the old outlet mall, now known as Vicksburg Commons, and the new businesses that have opened in the spaces once occupied by manufacturer’s outlets.

Mayor George Flaggs Jr. has predicted the linking of the east and west ends of South Frontage Road will open the area for commerce. The sides are now joined and open to traffic and the stage is set. It’s time to see if businesses owners and entrepreneurs will take advantage of the new access road to east Vicksburg and expand the economy.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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