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Traffic study could result in a six-lane interstate

By Staff
I-20/59 CHANGES Increasing traffic on Interstate 20/59 could lead the Mississippi Department of Transportation to widen the highway from four to six lanes, with three in each direction. Central District Transportation Commissioner Dick Hall said he believes an improved interstate will help attract new business and industry to the area. PHOTO BY PAULA MERRITT / THE MERIDIAN STAR
By Fredie Carmichael and Ashley McPhearson / staff writers
June 29, 2003
Meridian has become a hotbed for interstate traffic.
Because of that, Central District Transportation Commissioner Dick Hall said Interstate 20/59 could be rebuilt and expanded from four to six lanes through the city.
An ongoing, in-depth traffic study by the Mississippi Department of Transportation is expected to recommend changes to existing roads, highways and even I-20/59.
Hall, one of three commissioners who oversee the operation of MDOT, said that the study could be completed by the end of the year.
Frontage roads
While the additional I-20/59 lanes could mean smoother traffic flow, it also could require the expansion of the North and South Frontage roads onto land now owned by businesses.
Besides that, Hall said, he also expects MDOT to make both frontage roads into one-way streets. Portions of South and North Frontage roads now have two-way traffic.
Owners and employees of businesses along both roads said expanding the interstate, as well as North and South Frontage roads, is not necessary. They said such a move could harm businesses.
Meurice LeFevre, owner of Chunky River Harley Davidson/Buell on Bonita Lakes Drive near I-20/59, said he and his wife frequently travel to Atlanta and don't think traffic in Meridian warrants a wider interstate.
Shuanda Sears, the front desk clerk at the Econo Lodge on South Frontage Road, said a six-lane interstate would "bring in more noise that will disturb our customers at night."
Narrow interstate
Hall said any changes to the interstate won't take place overnight.
MDOT began its Meridian-area traffic study six months ago because of an influx of traffic through the city.
Hall said he believes an improved interstate is crucial in attracting prospective industrial businesses to Meridian and Lauderdale County.