Barnes Crossing road  construction under way

Drivers exiting U.S. Hwy. 45 onto Barnes Crossing Road pass orange construction barrels and drive on newly milled road surface.

Navigating Barnes Crossing Road between North Gloster Street and Tom Watson Drive could be a lot worse. At the best of times, it is a quick, traffic-free exercise. At the worst of times, it is as close to gridlock as there can be in Tupelo. Throw in a major construction project and it can be a literal waking nightmare. Now under construction, the way it could be worse is if that construction was occurring during the daytime. Thankfully, much of the construction happens late at night and through the very early morning hours when most folks are resting peacefully in their beds. In fact, most motorists on the thoroughfare have never even seen the work crews improving what can be traffic flow at a virtual standstill. But, fear not, it will be better when it’s finished. That prediction comes from Jamie McDonald, district construction engineer for the Mississippi Department of Transportation. He explained that the entire project practically makes a circle around the sprawling Mall at Barnes Crossing area. Some components of the $9.86 million undertaking are already finished. One of the most pressing is very familiar to drivers exiting McCullough Boulevard onto northbound Gloster Street, especially after or during a rain. The exit was hazardous because the old surface was like ice when it was wet; that has been resurfaced with a high-friction surface that makes spinning out of control, a regular occurrence before the repaving, a thing of the past. “Most of this project has a safety slant,” McDonald said. Indeed, virtually every component is focused on improving safety for drivers. The project contract, awarded to Gregory Construction of Columbus, is slated to be completed in mid-September. Construction was put on hiatus between November and January, primarily because of heavy shopping traffic in the months leading to Christmas when the myriad mall-area retailers draw shoppers from northern Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee. Another component of the project is synchronizing traffic signals on North Gloster from McCullough Boulevard to Barnes Crossing Road and east along that road to Tom Watson Drive. Along Gloster, 10 signals will be synchronized as well as they can be, according to McDonald. There are four signals on Barnes Crossing without counting the intersection with Gloster. “Storage,” the turn lanes at various intersections where vehicles wait to make a turn, is ongoing or completed in several locations; they have been added or have been lengthened. One of the main goals of work on Barnes Crossing Road where it passes under U.S. Hwy. 45 was to add an extra lane for turning north or south onto the highway. McDonald said the city of Tupelo has “really helped” with the project, especially when it came to identifying and locating the many utility lines underground and aloft. Still, said McDonald, the project will not and cannot alleviate all the traffic woes on the more than two-mile-long route of improvements: “It’s not going to be a magic wand,” he said. Particularly, the long line of traffic on northbound U.S Hwy. 45 waiting to exit onto Barnes Crossing Road during mainly pre-Christmas weekends will likely continue to be a factor. During the next few nights, with pavement milling completed, Barnes Crossing Road at its intersection with U.S. Hwy. 45 will be repaved and restriped.

C. Richard Cotton

Freelance writer/photographer/editor/author

243 County Road 783

Saltillo MS 38866

rcotton5@att.net

662-231-6222

 

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