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City of Laurel celebrates approval of Phase II for Central Avenue

On Friday, February 23rd at noon, Commissioner Charles Busby of the Mississippi Department of Transportation Southern District, joined Laurel Mayor Johnny Magee to announce the beginning of the Phase II improvement project for Central Avenue.

During a brief ceremony, held at the newly installed Central Avenue roundabout, Commissioner Busby, who was born in Laurel, praised the City for its improvements in recent years saying that he wanted to tell everyone “how proud the rest of the state is of what you have done here in Laurel” calling the work a “shining example” of what can be achieved when people work together.

He presented Mayor Johnny Magee with a letter approving the city for up to $1,750,000 in Federal Transportation Alternative Program funds, colloquially called a TAP grant. The grant will require a 20% local match.

“We are appreciative for the partnership that exists between the City of Laurel and MDOT,” Mayor Magee said. “We hope that this partnership continues.”

The project, which is estimated to total 2.2 million dollars, is a continuation of work initiated in 2016 when the city received a grant to make improvements on Central Avenue. This project, considered phase one, was completed in 2022 and provided for the repaving of Central Avenue, the installation of a new roundabout, and opening up the street to two-way traffic for the first time in many years.

Phase II will complete this work from the intersection where the new roundabout was installed to the end of the road where it connects to Spec Wilson Blvd. The project will also include making improvements to a section of Magnolia Street from Library Street to north of Central Avenue.

The area was originally paved over with brick pavers in the 1970s as part of an urban renewal project aimed at creating a pedestrian area downtown. However, in recent years, as the area has been reopened to vehicular traffic, the pavers and other structures installed have not been able to withstand the pressure of vehicular traffic.

In order to solve the many problems that having vehicular traffic in an area originally fitted for pedestrian traffic only, upgrades to the road and paving, the existing draining system, and the sidewalks and cross walks will need to be made. It is expected that the improvements will make the area safer for both pedestrians and drivers.

Construction is set to begin in the summer of 2025.

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