Phase two of Highway 12 project underway

Staff Writer

The second phase of the Highway 12 renovation project is underway.

Mississippi Department of Transportation Commissioner Mike Tagert said the current phase of the project on the east end of Highway 12 is similar to the first part of the project that was done last year.

“It is a complete rehabilitation of the route, meaning we’ve installed new signals that are connected with fiber optic cables so that they can communicate together collectively,” Tagert said. “From a transportation standpoint, that’s the biggest improvement for those traveling through.”

Tagert said a raised median is also being installed to reduce the crash rates that have been seen on the route.

“The big items are the signal upgrades where we’re moving from lights on a wire to fixed arm signals, which are much easier to maintain and more accurate, and the raised median,” Tagert said.

Construction on the route should be complete by mid-September or before, Tagert said. Tagert said the majority of the work is taking place at night to reduce interaction with high traffic rates during the day.

“The overall goal is to reduce the crash rates on that Highway 12 corridor,” he said. “In the previous five years, we have documented 1,664 crashes on that route, which equates to almost a single accident per day in a five-year period.”

For a route that size and profile, Tagert said it had the highest crash rate of any state road north of the Jackson metro area.

“On many other routes in the state where we’ve deployed this kind of project, we’ve seen dramatic reduction in crash rates, injury rates and personal property damage, and that’s the goal — to reduce the injuries and personal property damage,” he said.

Tagert said he feels the project will be successful, but studies will be done in time to test its effectiveness.

Tagert said it is a state funded project, but MDOT coordinated with the city of Starkville, who is installing landscaping in the medians.

“Instead of paving over the medians in the middle, we left them open so the city will have the option to landscape, which they are doing,” Tagert said.