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Brookway paving coming in March

Springtime will see Brookway Boulevard crunched with slowtraffic and heavy equipment, but the most-used stretch of road inBrookhaven will be smooth sailing come summer.

Brookhaven aldermen ended a long journey toward resurfacing theboulevard Monday night by approving local contractor Dickerson andBowen, Inc., to handle the job, which is scheduled to being inearly March and wrap up in 55 days. The approximately $700,000 jobwill see the boulevard milled, overlaid and restriped.

More than half the project cost – $354,000 – will come fromstimulus funds issued to the city through MDOT.

“Brookway is a reality now,” said Steve Moreton, public worksdirector. “We’ve got some paperwork to sign today (Tuesday) and getback to (Mississippi Department of Transportation).”

Moreton said all lanes of the boulevard from Highway 51 toHampton Drive would be repaved and restriped. He said the projectwould also see repairs and replacements made to 75 percent ofboulevard’s inductive loops, coils of wire embedded in the asphaltthat detect vehicles and manage traffic lights.

“Those loops in most intersections we’ve tested, three out offour, are broken,” Moreton said.

Moreton said the work would likely be done one lane at a time toease traffic congestion, but with cars stacking up bumper-to-bumperon normal days he admitted that traffic would be tight during theproject’s two-month course. An estimated 27,000 vehicles travel onBrookway Boulevard each day.

“We didn’t want to do it during the shopping season, and wecouldn’t have,” he said. “March will be better for us.”

Moreton and city aldermen expressed satisfaction at theproject’s approval Monday night, though several officials stillhave a wish list for future boulevard projects.

Moreton said he would love to replace the boulevard’s standardtraffic lights with clearer, brighter LED lights and replace thehanging wires with metal mast arms, but doing so would drive up thecost per intersection from around $10,000 to more than$100,000.

Ward Four Alderman Shirley Estes inquired about the possibilityfor an extra lane for cyclists and pedestrians, pointing out thatriders and walkers were traveling on the shoulder of the roadwhether they had a safe lane or not.

Jeff Green, the lead engineer on the Brookway Boulevard projectfrom Pickering, Inc., said the installation of such a lane ispossible but would be difficult because of the street’s unevennature.

“There’s not a consistent way to get a bike lane in there exceptto step off the side and build it. Same thing with a pedestrianlane,” he said.

Ward Five Alderman D.W. Maxwell said the next boulevard projectshould be the installation of a westbound merge lane leading fromHighway 51 to near Hudgey’s. He pointed to complete trafficstoppages that often occur there when westbound boulevard trafficgets bumper-to-bumper at the Brookhaven Street intersection, alsocausing vehicles merging from Highway 51 South to jam up on thatroad.

“I can tell you, you’ve got plenty of right-of-way,” Greensaid.