county hires firm to study road needs

By ANTHONY WARREN

Senior Staff Writer

An engineering firm has been brought on to map out Madison County’s road needs for the next 25 years.

The Board of Supervisors recently approved hiring Neel-Schaffer to study the county’s major roadways, and come up with long-term and short-term solutions to address traffic needs.

A final price for the study had not been determined at press time. The original agreement included fees not to exceed $31,500 and would have taken 10 weeks to complete.

However, the contract was amended to include an additional street and intersections at the behest of District Four Supervisor David Bishop.

Keith O’Keefe, a senior vice president with Neel-Schaffer, said there would “not be a significant increase” in price.

The agreement calls for looking into 11 sections of Madison County’s busiest roadways: Mississippi Highway 463, Stribling Road, Gluckstadt Road, Weisenberger Road, Yandell Road, two sections of Reunion Parkway, Bozeman Road, Catlett Road, Parkway East and U.S. Highway 22.

Highway 22 was added at the last minute by Bishop, and approved unanimously by the board.

Streets included are some of the county’s busiest. Mississippi 463, for example, sees as many as 34,000 vehicles a day, according to the Central Mississippi Planning and Development District’s (CMPDD) Web site. Bozeman Road, on the other hand, averages around 12,000 vehicles a day, CMPDD traffic counts show.

The study will also include evaluating intersections along those roadways, according to a copy of the contract. The data will be used to develop a road plan that will carry the county through 2040, O’Keefe said.

Data collected will include the existing conditions of the roadways, the posted speed limits, the locations of turn lanes and existing traffic signals. Historic traffic counts will be obtained at some intersections, and current-year traffic counts will be conducted as well, according to a copy of the agreement.

It will provide a much more focused view of the county’s road needs than the metro area road needs analyses conducted by the CMPDD, said County Engineer/Road Manager Dan Gaillet.

CMPDD revealed its 2040 “Metropolitan Transportation Plan” in December 2015, which covers the entire Jackson metropolitan area, the agency’s Web site states.

“CMPDD has done some metropolitan modeling (of the area), but they took a macro view,” he said. “Now, we’re taking a micro view, to see where we have issues and where we will have issues as we move forward.”

The study will allow the county to “step back and take a hard engineering and scientific look at the roads, and make sure what we design is what we need,” Gaillet said.

Gaillet said he couldn’t do the work because he doesn’t have the software or computer modeling programs to do the study.

Engineers will take data from the roads, put them in computer models to analyze data, determine traffic patterns, and determine the effects of potential projects on traffic flow, he said.

“What we’ll come out with (will be) immediate, short-term improvements that will cost the county a little less to improve the flow of traffic. It will also give us long-term plans for these particular areas, based on real traffic (data),” O’Keefe said.

The study is expected to take around 10 weeks to complete.