Interstate rest areas getting makeover

Published 6:00 am Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Rest areas along the north- and south-bound sides of Interstate55 in Copiah County will be undergoing a complete facelift in a fewshort weeks, state transportation officials said.

The rest area buildings will be completely renovated, includingeverything from new doors and windows and ceramic tiles to theplumbing lines and electrical fixtures.

“There will be new roofs on existing buildings, bricks restoredand washed, the interior will be completely refinished, and we’regoing to restore all the picnic tables outside and canopies,” saidGuy Nelson, project manager for Paul Jackson & Son, Inc.

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Bidding on the project was opened Nov. 28, 2006, and three bidswere taken. Paul Jackson & Son issued the lowest bid and wasawarded the contract at $824,000.

Due to the extensive renovations, the rest areas will be closedduring the nine months of construction to insure the continuedsafety of the traveling public, MDOT officials said.

“MDOT apologizes for the inconvenience during construction, butwould like to assure the traveling public the facilities will bemuch better and safer after the renovations have been done,” aspokesman said.

Some motorists stopped Friday at the rest area near Hazlehurstwere complimentary of the facilities at the are currently.

New Orleans native Ben Key said he’s been in a few rest stopsand that the Hazlehurst area has a nice feel.

“I don’t think the whole thing needs tearing down,” he said.”It’s a little outdated, but it’s good. Antique.”

Both Paul Jackson & Son and MDOT said they don’t expect workto interfere with traffic flow.

“There shouldn’t be any lane closings as far as our work isdone. I’m not sure what MDOT will have, but as far as our scope ofwork, there will not be any closings,” said Nelson.

Nelson said the project is expected to start in the next twoweeks, and is projected to end Nov. 27, 2007.

“We expect it to be complete before that,” he said.

The rest area project is separate from an ongoing overlayproject that has resulted in lane closures between the LincolnCounty line and Hazlehurst.

Construction crews have set up lane closures on northbound andsouthbound lanes for overlaying of I-55 in that area. The projectis expected to continue through March.