By BECKY GILLETTE
Hoy Road is a bumpy, two-lane road that carries far more traffic daily than for what it was designed. It changes into into Madison Parkway\Highway 463 where it meets U.S. 51 on the west end, connecting residents in the east part of town to schools, shopping, work and larger traffic corridors.
A plan to widen Hoy Road has been in the works since 2006, said Madison Interim Public Works Director Denson Robinson.
Now, the project is gaining speed.
“What we are doing for Hoy Road is bumping it up to two improved lanes, three lanes, four lanes and five lanes with curbs and gutters,” Robinson said. “The project will also include a 10-foot multi-use trail that will connect with entire length of our project with Highway 51 and Old Canton Road that already have trails.”
Mark Beyea, an engineer manager for Neel Schaffer in the Madison office and project engineer for the Hoy Road widening, said a new environmental assessment was done in 2012, and the city is now in the process of acquiring the right-of way for the reduced concept. Easement purchases for the widening project began early this year and will continue till spring of next year. The widenings of the west end of the Hoy Road project will match the widening of Hoy Road between Highway 51 and Old Canton Road done by the Mississippi Department of Transportation a few years ago. The city is adding additional lanes at Rice and Tisdale roads, which intersect Hoy Road at the same point.
“Right now, we are estimating construction costs at $7.5 million,” Beyea said. “We anticipate construction to start in the summer of 2018 and run for a year and a half. Being under construction that long is not ideal. In a portion of the construction, traffic will be one way. Hoy Road will be primarily east to west and Tisdale Road will handle the detour of the west to east traffic. The rationale is people go to work at the same time, but come home spread out.”
There have been numerous residential neighborhoods built in the Hoy Road area over the past 20 years. Robinson said the traffic count is such that a two-lane road is insufficient to handle it.
“We are working to improve Hoy Road to help people to connect to existing four-lane and five-lane roads to make it easier to get around town, as well as connect to the Interstate,” Robinson said. “The majority of the east side of town is residential, but it all feeds into the business areas along Highway 51 and along Interstate 55.”
Like with any major highway project, there will be traffic delays while the work is being done.
“If you live on the east side of the town, it will be aggravation while it is going on,” Robinson said. “But it will be a blessing when it is complete allowing people to get from home to schools, working and shopping a lot faster. Hoy Road is especially congested around school time.”
The 10-foot multi-use trail will be down the south side of the road. But Robinson said there will be five-foot sidewalks on some parts of the north side of Hoy. Combined, those will give safe access to people who want to walk and ride bicycles.
“You will see these kinds of trails in most of the new projects around town,” Robinson said. “It will tie into what we did on Old Canton Road at the Natchez Trace. All the trails will tie together in the long run.”
Robinson said the project has taken so long because of the numerous steps needed when federal, state and local funding is involved.
“First, you have to show a need, which includes doing traffic counts,” Robinson said. “Then you must secure funding and do environmental studies. There is a laundry list of this that have to be done to make a project like this happen.”
Beyea said the Hoy Road project has changed since it was first envisioned.
“The original environmental assessment was based on a four-lane,” Beyea said. “When we got to looking at how much right-of-way it would require to do that, the city decided it didn’t want to impact the property owners along Hoy Road to that extent and asked us to look and see if it could be slightly less extensive. Instead of making it a four-lane boulevard all the way through, the city decided to make it four-lane to a certain point and in sections of Hoy Road where there are no subdivision entrances and no reason to stop and turn left, narrowed that part of it down to a wider two-lane road.”
There will be a separate project by Madison County to improve Tisdale Road.
“Right now, a section of Tisdale Road is in rough shape,” Beyea said. “To serve as a detour, it needs to be fixed. Bids are due in Sept. 26, and we hope to have that finished after the first of the year.”
As far as the impact on economic development, Beyea said the road projects will allow areas at the east end of Hoy to complete their development.
There is a large plot of land at the west end of Hoy that could be considered prime for commercial development. But Robinson said that 22 acres is still zoned agricultural. “The family that owns it is not ready to sell it,” he said.
The city is also building a brand-new road from Main Street to Madison Avenue where there are commercial developments including an Academy Sports and Hobby Lobby. Robinson said that will open up more property for commercial development.
While work on Hoy Road started in 2006, Robinson said they only started work on the new road from Main Street to Madison Ave. in February, and the project is expected to be complete by December of this year.
“We can do it faster because it is all city and private money,” Robinson said.
“Madison is definitely a growing community, but most of it is west of the interstate and north of town,” Beyea said. “There is still some growth could happen along east Hoy road. The Lost Rabbit development at the east end of Hoy is not full. The Hoy road project will allow additional capacity to carry that traffic if additional development occurs.”