Richburg/Old 11 traffic light hitting delays

By HASKEL BURNS,

A traffic signal project that was expected to be finished last month is taking somewhat longer than planned, as officials are having trouble locking down a company to complete lane striping.

Lamar County Engineer Don Walker said he has spoken to several striping companies over the last few weeks regarding the traffic light at the intersection of Old Highway 11 and Richburg Road, but their schedules are preventing them from getting to the project in a timely manner.

“So that’s what’s delaying it, and we really don’t need to put it in operation without the appropriate turn lane and directional sign,” he said. “We’ve tried to lock (the companies) in, and we’re not getting any response from any of the stripers. 

“We’ve been working on it; we just have not been able to get them up here. One of them has a $90 million project down on the Coast that he’s working on.”

Walker said temporary tape is an alternative option for the striping for a short period of time, but there would be difficulties when it came time to remove the tape.

“The only way to remove it is with a torch, so it could create a little bit of a problem for us to do that,” he said. “It could be done, but I’d say let’s delay it as far as we can until we see what these stripers do. I’m going to follow up with them (this week).”

According to a traffic study done by Hattiesburg consulting firm Walker Associates, more than 7,000 vehicles enter the intersection from Old Highway 11, while more than 3,600 enter from Richburg Road.

“We’ve heard nothing but positive (feedback) about what’s been done so far at the intersection,” Walker said. “We’re just waiting on striping.”

County officials also have discussed other road improvements for Old Highway 11, including a project that would widen a 1.2-mile section of that highway and add a multi-use pathway along that stretch of road. 

The $4.3 million project, which is being overseen by Walker Associates, will add a third lane on Old Highway 11, running from 16th Section Road to Old Highway 24. The 10-foot-wide multi-use pathway, which will accommodate pedestrian and bike traffic, will begin on Old Highway 24 near Oak Grove Middle School before turning north on Old Highway 11 and stopping at 16th Section Road. 

“It won’t necessarily increase the capacity of the road, but it will help the flow of traffic and make it safer,” Lamar County Administrator Jody Waits said in a previous story.