JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Construction crews in Jackson County have kicked into overdrive to help give a main thoroughfare near Ocean Springs High School a facelift before school starts. County officials said the improvements should give students, staff and nearby residents a safer and smoother ride.
Highway 57 and the roads that cross it are hardly ever quiet, especially on the south side near Ocean Springs High.
"This road is probably one of the busiest in Jackson County. School hours in the morning and going home in the evenings because of the school system, the high population in St. Andrews, Ocean Beach Estates, Gulf Park Estates area," Jackson County Supervisor John McKay said.
The county got the green light and more than $3 million in state, federal and local funds to begin a multiphase road improvement project last year. Two of the phases are already complete, which included widening Old Spanish Trail as well as adding turning bays and traffic lights.
"The second phase of it was installing the crossing arms on the railroad tracks," McKay said.
Head contractor Jimmy Lane, of Lane Construction, has his crews targeting the main thoroughfare now. It's extremely narrow, but the plan is to add 14 feet of roadway to the highway.
"We are developing a three lane boulevard along Highway 57 going toward the new high school. It's currently a two lane road, and we are doing the paving necessary to widen the road for easier access," Lane said.
The goal is to have the road makeover ready for the thousands of students and staff members returning to school in August.
"More than 90 percent will be completed in time for school. We will have a little bit before and a little bit after to complete the construction, but it should not impact the school whatsoever," McKay said.
McKay and Lane are confident this construction will help eliminate road congestion and make traveling in the area safer.
"It will be a much wider road, have shoulders, plus we have added an awful lot of drainage. We used to have a lot of land around here flood. So, with the new drainage, the wider road, it should be much safer for people to travel," McKay said.