JACKSON — Officials have approved plans to fix one of Interstate 55’s most congested and dangerous exit ramps in Jackson.
During a recent Mississippi Transportation Commission meeting, plans to improve the traffic capacity, flow and safety at the I-55 north exits to Lakeland Drive West were discussed and approved. The modification project will make several changes to traffic flow in the area, which will alleviate congestion with the current configuration.
“Motorists competing for lanes in this area have created an intersecting traffic pattern that causes congestion and wrecks on a regular basis,” said Transportation Commissioner Dick Hall. “By adding the new left turn lane and removing the northeast loop, motorists traveling on I-55 north will have a much safer means to get to the businesses and health services on Lakeland Drive just west of I-55.”
The modifications include:
• The addition of a left turn lane at I-55 north to the Lakeland Drive intersection (at Exit 98B), which will provide a total of three left turn lanes for motorists to travel west on Lakeland Drive.
• The removal of the northeast exit loop (Exit 98C).
• The current exit lane of Exit 98C, which goes under the Lakeland Drive bridge, will be turned into a travel lane that will connect to the fourth I-55 northbound lane just past Lakeland Drive.
• Lakeland Drive westbound will be widened to four lanes at the intersection.
• The right turn lane on Lakeland Drive westbound will give access to I-55 north and the frontage road.
Based on the combination of crash data, traffic pattern observations and traffic counts, MDOT has identified this area as a safety priority. Current traffic patterns show that motorists who are attempting to access Lakeland Drive west from the I-55 north exit loop (Exit 98C) must compete for lanes with motorists who are currently traveling along Lakeland Drive west and attempting to access I-55 south.
An average of approximately 30 wrecks per year have been reported by local law enforcement, specifically at the northeast exit loop. This equates to approximately one wreck every 12 days. Almost 80 percent of those wrecks are caused by sideswipes and rear-end collisions.
The estimated cost of the project is $1.6 million and has a projected completion date of November. As the project has not finished the bidding process, a specific timetable has not been established.