Jefferson St.

City and county elected officials along with the local hospital are addressing projects designed to improve public safety in Laurel. Construction work on the Jefferson Street Road Diet and Pedestrian Improvements project is underway.

In February, the city council gave the go ahead to award the construction contract for the Jefferson Street project.

Mayor Johnny Magee said the funding sources for the street project include city funds, Jones County funds and South Central Regional Medical Center funds.

According to officials, the various agencies are funding this project to promote pedestrian safety.

“There’s a lot of pedestrian traffic in this area of Jefferson Street, and this project is designed to make the area safer,” the mayor said. “There was an incident involving a pedestrian, and we believe these changes will improve the safety there.”

Traditionally a lot of people walk across Jefferson Street, which is currently four lanes, to and from the hospital and medical offices. This street improvement project is expected to alter the vehicular and pedestrian traffic pattern on Jefferson Street.

“It’s the hope of officials that the improvements will provide a pedestrian friendly environment that is safe and visually pleasing,” the mayor added. “This is important to both South Central Regional Medical Center and the city of Laurel.”

According to city documents, South Central Regional Medical Center has invested $39 million in improvements to the hospital facility on Jefferson Street.

Officials said the pedestrian traffic is anticipated to increase with the new medical facility opening and as it reaches full capacity. Magee said the project includes the reduction of Jefferson Street to a three-lane section, improved pedestrian safety crossings, and milling and overlay of Jefferson Street.

“A road diet to reduce the roadway from four lanes to three lanes is recommended to slow traffic and create safer pedestrian crossings,” Magee said. “Realigning the entrance to the hospital with 12th Avenue was added to the design to further increase pedestrian safety.”

The mayor said the total project cost is $630,000.

City officials report that initially the Jones County Board of Supervisors agreed to contribute $100,000 toward the street improvements, while South Central agreed to contribute $220,000 toward the project. The city’s part of the project will be $220,000.

When the bids came in on February 10, the lowest and best bid was received from Dunn Roadbuilders, LLC in the amount of $360,405.00. Because of the increase in cost, the city increased its contribution to the project by approximately $56,227.50.

“We think this is a worthy project that will help protect residents in our city,” the mayor ended.

Officials said motorists are asked to exercise caution when traveling in the construction area.

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