LAUREL, MS (AP) The Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) has received an apparent low bid of $26 million from Tanner Construction Co. of Ellisville to reconstruct the Interstate 59 S-Curve in Laurel.
MDOT awarded the contract July 11 and expected to issue a notice to proceed for Aug. 10. Plans are underway to hold a groundbreaking ceremony in August.
The contact is for reconstruction and realignment work on I-59 from 16th Avenue to Fourth Avenue in Laurel, with two new Beacon Street exits.
“Once MDOT awards the construction contract in July, we’ll begin this project of great significance to the people in Laurel, Jones County and the region as a whole,” said district engineer Ricky Lee.
Lee said construction on the three quarters of a mile project will take about three years.
Project Engineer Red Stringfellow said traffic flow should not be significantly impacted until the final months of the project.
“The driving public will see little or no changes in traffic patterns during construction, in part because the interstate will remain a four lane roadway,” said Stringfellow. “However, reduced speeds will be enforced.”
The city of Laurel borrowed $36 million last year to fund the work on the S-curve and other costs associated with the project including engineering costs.
MDOT will repay the city’s loan. A state law approved in 2004 allows cities or counties to fast-track road projects by borrowing money to cover the costs. Federal and state dollars are used to repay the loan.
The winding I-59 stretch has claimed the lives of at least 13 people in the past decade.
John Parker, a resident of the Lebanon community, said the project is a blessing.
“I am a native of Jones County so I’ve seen wrecks happen in that curve,” he said. “This is years past due.”
I-59 in Laurel was constructed in 1961, prior to the adoption of interstate standards. In 1986, environmental studies were conducted, which began the effort to reconstruct the S-curve to interstate standards.