JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Jackson County is finally on the road to getting rid of a dangerous intersection. It took years of dealing with delays and fighting for funding, but many people are feeling the excitement knowing the safety improvements are about to start.
"It's one of the most important probably projects on the Coast, county wise for sure. So safety's what it's all about," said Southern District Transportation Commissioner Tom King.
A safety makeover that's long overdue seemed to be the sentiment among the state and county leaders who gathered Thursday to celebrate the start of a $2.4 million project to improve the intersection at Old Fort Bayou and Yellow Jacket Road.
"Fifteen years ago, I was a student actually at St. Martin High School, and one of my first accidents was right here in front of this intersection," said T.J. Moran, Congressman Steven Palazzo's Field Director.
In hopes of reducing crashes and traffic jams, construction crews will remove a sharp, blind curve by shifting a section of Old Fort Bayou about 300-feet north, so it directly connects to Yellow Jacket Road. They will also install a traffic light.
The changes mean a straighter drive to St. Martin High, the middle school and upper elementary.
"As a life long resident of St. Martin I've watched this project just sit here on the table and it's been a passion of mine. From the St. Martin community, St. Martin students, I want to thank you," said St. Martin High Principal Dina Holland.
The construction is getting underway at a time when more than 3,000 students and hundreds of employees are heading back to school. District leaders and the county are working together to try to minimize any traffic headaches.
"We'll be able to build the rest of the road out after school starts. But prior to that, we'll do all the work on Old Fort Bayou Road so we can make that go a lot smoother," said Jackson County Supervisor Troy Ross.
The project is funded by the Federal Highway Administration and administered by MDOT, with a 20 percent match from Jackson County. The road construction will start in September and the work should take about seven months.