Busy U.S. 98 intersection may see future improvements

By HASKEL BURNS,

Traffic signal warrant evaluation, drainage planned for Lamar Blvd.

It’s been several months since Mayor Toby Barker laid out his improvement plans for Lamar Boulevard, the much-maligned thoroughfare that connects U.S. 98 to Lincoln Road in west Hattiesburg.

Shortly after the opening of the new Regions Bank mortgage center on Lincoln and Lamar – which necessitated the repairs even more – Hattiesburg City Council members voted at last week’s board meeting to make that work official, with the application for a Development Infrastructure Program Grant from the Mississippi Development Authority.

“The improvements are needed, and the city’s been looking at doing that for that road,” City Engineer Lamar Rutland said. “Regions has helped us necessitate a grant of opportunity for that roadway, and we’re in the process of applying for the grant for that project. So we’ve applied for it, and we’re waiting on the acceptance of that grant.”

The work, which will commence upon receipt of the grant, will consist of demolition and reconstruction of the entire road, as well as the addition of more than 30 new inlets for drainage. The road will remain at least partially open to motorists at all time during the project.

“The road will never be shut down,” Rutland said. “That road is an existing three-lane road, and we will build each lane in sections. We’ll shut down a lane at a time, and always have two-way traffic available on that road during construction.”

The grant from the MDA would fund approximately 80 percent of the approximate $2 million cost of the project, with the city covering the other 20 percent.

“We’re hoping to get it, and as soon as receive the grant we’ll get started on it as soon as possible,” Rutland said.

In addition, council members approved an agreement with Hattiesburg firm Shows, Dearman & Waits to conduct a traffic signal warrant evaluation at U.S. 98 and Lamar Boulevard. The study, which will cost a one-time lump sum of $18,620, includes rates such as $175 per hour for a senior engineer, $150 per hour for a project engineer and $175 per hour for field crew.

“We’re performing a traffic signal study at that location to see if the increased traffic due to the Regions development, and others, would warrant a traffic signal there,” Rutland said. “Part of it is to study the current (traffic) numbers, and the numbers due to Regions growth and future growth in that area.”