MDOT Approves Fortification Street Project | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

MDOT Approves Fortification Street Project

photo

Councilwoman Margaret Barrett-Simon has fought for a Fortification Street overhaul.

A Mississippi Department of Transportation commission voted to approve a plan to narrow Fortification Street and install traffic-slowing features Wednesday. "Obviously we're extremely pleased that we received an affirmative vote on the alternative 3B plan for Fortification," said Ward 7 Councilwoman Margaret Barrett-Simon. "We've been working on this for years, and we think that with MDOT's blessing it will finally move forward.

Barrett-Simon and many Belhaven residents pushed the plan to shrink the size of Fortification and widen sidewalks to make it more pedestrian friendly. Some business owners complained that the design change would have an adverse affect on commuter traffic coming into the neighborhood and potentially cost business money, however.

David Miller, co-owner of a mineral and oil exploring business on Fortification Street, said last month that he feared the plan would severely choke the road.

"The real purpose of this new design is nothing less than to kill commuter traffic. They want to cut away the lanes and stuff the 40,000 people who commute twice a day through this intersection into two lanes. This will mean congestion on Woodrow Wilson Avenue and High Street, and traffic problems as people break off Fortification as soon as they can and go through the neighborhoods," Miller said.

Barrett-Simon disagreed, saying the beautification project would enhance the neighborhood and prove a boon to businesses in the area.

For better or worse, project designer Hibbett Neel called MDOT's decision a green light on construction.

"I think this is the last real hurdle we had to cross. The easements could hold some things up, but I don't think anything's stopping it now," Neel said, adding that funding for the $15 million project is already in place.

Previous Comments

ID
140719
Comment

Growing up in Jackson I never realized how poorly the city was designed. It wasn't until I moved away and lived in other cities that it became clear to me that our city either had no plan or the design was created by a shaky handed second grader with a crayon and some construction paper. The meandering streets with address numbers that mean nothing, multiple streets with the same names in different parts of town lead me to believe it was the former because even a second grader wouldn't design a city this hard to understand. I still wonder how people who aren't from here manage to get around without spending hours lost driving aimlessly. I lived in Denver, CO for eight years. Five of those I didn't own a personal vehicle. I used the sidewalks and the RTA, Denver's public transit system, to get everywhere I wanted or needed to go. So I think sidewalks are a good idea generally but what is the wisdom in choking off a major artery into the city from the interstate when there is no alternative transportation available here to your car? Yes, there is a bus system but there are very few, if any, shelters at the bus stops and almost no sidewalks to get to or from the open air bus stops. And if there is to be a viable public transit system sometime in the future how cool would it be to be stuck behind a bus on a two lane street making pickups every couple of blocks? Somebody needs to take Ms. Barrett-Simon's crayons away until the city council has a better plan than "wouldn't this be pretty."

Author
WMartin
Date
2008-11-16T08:06:06-06:00
ID
140724
Comment

Jackson isn't poorly designed. It's a number of main/primary roads, like Fortification, that connect the various neighborhoods which are usually made up of series of grids. As an outsider with a AAA map,I found it very easy to make my way around Jackson without getting lost. Most cities have duplicate street names...Elm St, Elm Rd, Elm Way, Elm Ave. The problem with Jackson is, when you get where you're going, there just ain't too d**n much there. I hesitate to use a racially charged word like ghetto, I know there's a lot of great people, but Jackson is as big slum. It's desolate. Even midday in perfect weather there's no one out walking. It doesn't look safe and it isn't safe. Someone at JFP published a link to the carjacking/homicide data last year. It was something like 2 carjackings every 3 days and a murder every other day. I saw overt drug dealing in broad daylight at several house off Fortification, within a few blocks of Fenian's pub and not far from that fantastic Mexican restaurant. Driving Gallatin was an experience. Even over by Pascagoula at the new multi-million dollar art museum complex where there's a police station nearby you don't see any pedestrians and no patrol cars out. The police aren't visible in Jackson. And, I found that "Quick Take" effort very objectionable but it's also heartbreaking to see the state of disrepair of the houses and the obvious poverty surrounding such an important institution as JSU. It reminded me of the shanty towns of Kingston, Jamaica but here in America. It's shameful that these people are our own fellow citizens, Americans, and that's the best America and Mississippi can offer them as a present and future. To me, a visitor, Jackson is a place I love, for some unexplainable reason I love the town, the people, the culture, but it's the Mad Max vision of the future of urban America. I don't think doing whatever or not to Fortification will make one iota of difference.

Author
HardTravelin
Date
2008-11-16T18:16:01-06:00
ID
140725
Comment

The "floor plan" for the city of Jackson was laid out by none other than Thomas Jefferson, who envisioned a system of streets and parks that would do any early 19th century city proud. While I do agree that for the uninitiated Jackson can be a difficult city to get around in, you should give Margaret credit for ensuring that Fortification Street provides an attractive venue into the city. While High Street allows a more open access, and will probably soon be linked to the airport across the river, the collection of convenience stores and fast food markets, to my mind, sends the wrong signals to visitors. Even the Pearl Street exit from I-55 is more attractive and better designed as an artery. Most all of us in Belhaven agree that Margaret is doing a fine job, and we're quite proud that she's been instrumental in making historic Fortification Street more than just a long collection of potholes. She's hardly in a position to redo Jackson's public transportation system after 188 years of planes, trains and automobiles.

Author
JLY
Date
2008-11-16T18:22:44-06:00
ID
140731
Comment

I don't have a problem with city beautification, there is no doubt Jackson needs a lot of it. But to narrow the street sounds, to me, counter productive to growing our city. Yeah, there isn't a lot down there now but hopefully there will be someday. I'm sure someone has a plan somewhere, right? So why spend money to narrow a street only to end up hoping it will need expanding again as soon as possible? By the way, it is not a long collection of potholes. Those are "traffic slowing features". Why they want to install more is anyone's guess. If a city council person isn't in a position to redo the public transportation system in the city who would be? Wasn't there just an article here in the JFP about the city taking over the bus system? I totally agree with your thoughts on High Street, even after it's makeover it leaves a lot to be desired. But it is clean and well lit.

Author
WMartin
Date
2008-11-17T07:55:38-06:00
ID
140734
Comment

State Street between Meadowbrook and Old Canton was narrowed down from four to two lanes (with a turning lane in the middle), but that didn't stop things from happening there. In fact, that stretch of State Street was way too narrow for it to have been a four-lane.

Author
golden eagle
Date
2008-11-17T09:08:44-06:00
ID
140735
Comment

Fortification Street should not be a highway connecting I-55 and State Street. It is a main road that is mixed-use (commercial and residential) that divides two historic neighborhoods. As a Belhaven resident, I am completely in support of this plan. A walking city is a living city; and right now, there is no walking on Fortification unless you have a death wish.

Author
QB
Date
2008-11-17T09:31:28-06:00
ID
140738
Comment

Woodrow Wilson, High Street & Pearl Street are the main entrances into the downtown area from I20. Before I55, State Street was the main corridor of traffic so these streets should carry the overwhelming load of traffic. People can still use Fortification Street. Converting it to two-lanes will not kill traffic. Commuters had their say as well as the residences and businesses, and the result was to narrow Fortification. Correct me if I'm wrong, but Kats, Artichoke, McDade's and Baptist Hospital all supported the project. If the retail businesses that need traffic support it, and Baptist is ok with it, that says a lot about the pushing converting Fortification.

Author
maybob95
Date
2008-11-17T11:08:44-06:00
ID
140740
Comment

Fortification Street does actually continue past State Street over Mill Street and joins into Woodrow Wilson before it becomes Bullard Street so it is a cross town artery. I understand the inclination to want to slow or stop traffic in your neighborhood but that mindset isn't really gonna help promote a lot of investment in the part of town over the bridge from you.

Author
WMartin
Date
2008-11-17T11:38:36-06:00
ID
140746
Comment

I still don't get the argument because if Fortification Street was the only way to get to "that part of town over the bridge" I would say it doesn't make sense. However, we Jacksonians can find more than one way to get from point A to point B. Baptist approved of the plans even with their proposed mixed-use development in Belhaven. The plan makes sense because it's a compromise. It's plain silly to have people driving 50mph in a residential neighborhood (until they hit the pothole and complain about damage because of city streets), but you can't shut down the street.

Author
maybob95
Date
2008-11-17T13:12:35-06:00
ID
140748
Comment

I really don't see what's not to get. The 50 mph argument is just a straw man, that's illegal anyway. What I don't get is why it's so hard for anyone to grasp the idea of what I am saying. Ok, yes Fortification would be prettier and your little slice of heaven would be nicer. But hopefully in ten years Jackson won't be such a ghost town and we may actually need a four lane artery to move people in and out of what are the more depressed areas of town today. I am not proposing building one. I just think maybe its a mistake to tear up the infrastructure we already have. It's this inability or just plain unwillingness to see down the road (No pun intended) and beyond our own noses that keeps us at the bottom of almost every statistic there is. At least the good ones anyway. Sheesh

Author
WMartin
Date
2008-11-17T13:47:20-06:00
ID
140768
Comment

WMartin, I think you are having trouble understanding. On the 50mph thing, I know it's illegal, but it's true. Whenever, streets are widen or have multiple lanes, traffic moves faster than the speed limit (just my personal observation). Basically, you're saying it's an integral cross town artery or narrowing it would destroy any hopes of developing in the area further in the city. Well, it's not an integral cross town artery since you can also cross town by Woodrow Wilson, High Street, and Pearl/Pascagoula. Traffic will slow down in the seven blocks being narrowed, but the businesses will benefit by having people actually seeing their establishments when they drive by. The project is more than just a beautification projects it's an economic development tool. MDA would not be involved if they didn't think so, and the retail businesses would not have supported it. Narrowing the street is not the reason that will impede development on the Mill Street side, but that's a different conversation.

Author
maybob95
Date
2008-11-17T16:38:02-06:00
ID
140772
Comment

LOL... I had to laugh, I'm sorry and I mean no disrespect. MDA wouldn't be involved if they didn't think it's economically a good idea? Ever heard of the beef plant? There's an example of what they think is a good idea. And all those businesses down there are dying for some stiff competition I'm sure. Ok. I give up. You want your parkway I get it. It's a done deal anyway. I wish I had known about it before it was a done deal but I am a busy guy. I can't help thinking this is us shooting ourselves in the foot again and I have to wonder how much foot do we have left?

Author
WMartin
Date
2008-11-17T17:32:04-06:00

Thanks to all our new JFP VIPs!

COVID-19 has closed down the main sources of the JFP's revenue -- concerts, festivals, fundraisers, restaurants and bars. If everyone reading this article gives $5 or more, we should be able to continue publishing through the crisis. Please pay what you can to keep us reporting and publishing.

Comments

Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

comments powered by Disqus