Mississippi Department of Transportation Commissioner Mike Tagert this week updated two road projects that affect DeSoto County drivers.
Of most interest in the county is the progress on I-269, the final portion of which to be finished is from I-55 to Highway 305 at Lewisburg.
Considered the state’s largest active highway construction project, workers are continuing to finish the nine-mile stretch of roadway.
“When the final stretch is complete, we will have full connectivity between I-55 in Mississippi and I-40 in Tennessee,” the Northern District Transportation Commissioner said in his latest newsletter. “It will drive new growth opportunities for DeSoto County and North Mississippi.”
Tagert did say heavy rainfall and cold weather late last year caused delays, however the final phase of the project is still scheduled for completion in the fall of this year.
Southaven and Horn Lake drivers along Goodman Road at I-55 have been dealing with roadwork to reconfigure the interchange, a project which is planned to be finished in late fall.
The work being done is aimed to help alleviate congestion and increase safety at the interchange, which averages 41,000 drivers a day.
“The improvements will improve traffic flow at this high-use intersection,” Tagert said. “Crews have nearly completed the first phase, which included substantial drainage work at the interchange.”
This project is being done in several stages to complete specific steps and minimize the impact to traffic flow.
Right now, drivers leaving I-55 northbound to Goodman can either turn left at the traffic light or merge right. Getting to Baptist Memorial Hospital-DeSoto, for example, then becomes a challenge as motorists must cross three lanes to get to Southcrest Parkway and the left turn lane for the hospital.
When the project is done, a third option will mean drivers can turn left to go westbound on Goodman, merge right or turn right at a new lane controlled by a traffic light. The new lane will access two dedicated turn lanes to Southcrest Parkway separated by slotted curbs.
“The new configuration will prevent traffic that is merging right from crossing over to the dedicated turn lanes,” Tagert said.
A similar configuration will be installed for I-55 southbound traffic accessing Interstate Boulevard where there will be one dedicated turn lane separated by slotted curbs.
When the project is completed, motorists will no longer be able to turn left across traffic to access I-55. Instead motorists will have to use the existing right lane entrance to the on-ramp loop. The three through lanes will remain. A similar configuration will be installed for westbound traffic on Goodman Road.
Crews are preparing to pave several sections of the project before moving on the second phase of the project, which will eliminate the left turns on to I-55.
Phase 3 will remove existing medians and add slotted curbs. Phase 4 will complete the new right turn bays at both exit ramps.
The $5.3 million project was awarded to Ferrell Paving, Inc., of Memphis, Tenn., in November 2017.
Bob Bakken is Staff Writer for the DeSoto Times-Tribune.