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Mississippi DOT Plans Rehab of Freeways Through Jackson Later This Spring

Thu March 23, 2023 - National Edition #7

For years, the daily drive to work on Interstate 20 or I-55 for Jackson, Miss.-area residents has most likely included hitting several dips, bumps and jumps on the roadways.

But in early March, according to Michael Flood of the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT), the daily commute around and through the capital city will begin to get a lot smoother.

It will, however, require patience from motorists.

"This is going to have a major traffic impact here in Jackson," Flood told WLBT-TV in Jackson. "[Interstate 20] is the most heavily traveled corridor in our state, so this [work] is going to have a [big effect] on traffic."

Approximately 120,000 vehicles travel on Jackson's I-55 and I-20 connections every day. By doing so, the roads have aged poorly over the years.

"Yeah, I-20 here in Jackson really needs this pavement rehabilitation," he explained. "We hear from the public about it, and I'm sure you guys do as well. This project has been a long time coming and it really needs to be done. It's very necessary to [MDOT] and the traveling public. We want to keep I-20 safe, smooth, and passable."

He said construction will start sometime in May or June. MDOT plans to release the full itinerary in April, and the state agency will include confirmed dates of construction, as well as official detour routes.

Interstates' Rehab Method Involves Quick, But Safe Work

The need for highway rehabilitation is obvious, but the question remains: How does a crew go about repaving and remodeling these long stretches of freeway as quickly as possible, with a minimum disruption to Mississippi's busiest corridor?

The answer, according to Flood, will be like earlier MDOT projects on I-20 that involved shutting down one side of the interstate at a time.

"The reason for the extended closure is to get it all done at once," he explained to the Jackson television news source. "If we were to just do, say, overnight closures, [that method] would drag it out for a month — possibly months."

Not only will the planned procedure take less time, he added, but it will also be much safer for workers to do their jobs without vehicles passing directly by them.

Some nights, area drivers have likely found themselves struggling to see if they were in the correct lane due to faded lane-striping, but Flood said MDOT is checking all the boxes.

"In addition to upgrading the pavement and making it smoother, all the pavement markers, the striping, the reflectors that you see in the center of the interstate, will be [replaced] as well," he said.

While most people do not enjoy idling in construction traffic, Flood assured WLBT-TV that the I-20/I-55 improvement project is much needed and will be well worth the wait.

"Really, I-20 is going to see a major upgrade this year," he noted. "Both I-20 and 55, by about the end of this year, will have much safer and smoother riding conditions."

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