Work progressing on Old Highway 11 asphalting, middle school turn lane

By HASKEL BURNS,

Work is progressing on the $800,000 project that will widen the asphalt roadway on Old Highway 11 between Richburg Road and Old Highway 24 and add a turn lane at the entrance to Oak Grove Middle School.

Widening and overlay for the main roadway is complete, with shoulder material expected to be added in the very near future. Workers also will soon sign and stripe the roadway.

“Shoulder material will be added very soon, and signing and striping will depend upon the subcontractor’s schedule,” Lamar County Engineer Don Walker said. “Work is going well, and the contractor is providing a good product.”

The road will remain open during the project, with workers directing traffic to the appropriate lane.

The project got its official start in August 2019, when the Lamar County Board of Supervisors accepted a low bid of $800,108.80 from R&J Construction of Laurel for the work.

“So it will be improving the shoulders and adding a little more asphalt to improve the traffic flow,” Lamar County Administrator Jody Waits said in a previous story. “(The turn lane) will ease traffic in that area – it backs up quite a bit during school traffic.

“Right now, at the beginning and ending of the school day, traffic has nowhere to get off to make that turn, so it backs up through the intersection of Old 11 and 24 and really slows things down through there. And it’s become accident-prone as well – it seems like there’s always somebody running into somebody because it’s so congested.”

The project is a continuation of the upcoming widening of Old Highway 11 that will stretch from the city limits near Oak Grove High School down to Old Highway 24.

“We found additional funds to continue that improvement down to Richburg Road,” Waits said. “We’re fortunate that the funds are coming from state aid road funds, and we’re able to capitalize on some of the most recent changes in the legislation, which will allow us to access some emergency funds to do that as well.”

Old Highway 11 also saw additional back in October, when workers replaced multiple culverts along the roadway between Richburg Road and Old Highway 24. That work, which entailed excavating the trenches across the full area of the road, took place during the weekend to avoid interfering with weekday school traffic near the middle school.