Main menu


A business owner on 16th Street is dissatisfied with the MDOT project news

featured image

A group of locals looking for ways to stop plans to put a median on a busy thoroughfare

“Can you stop me?” That was the question the 16th Street business owner asked about the Mississippi Department of Transportation’s plan to build a median on Laurel’s busiest road.

The proposed project is slated to begin construction in the second half of 2023, and a 16th Street Commission of nearly 20 business owners met at Laurel Airport Monday night for an MDOT update on the project. I heard a report about

16th Street Commission spokesman Ron Swindall spoke with a group of concerned citizens and business owners trying to block plans by the Mississippi Department of Transportation to redesign Laurel’s busiest thoroughfare. doing.

(Photo by Josh


Group spokesman Ron Swindal said, “After five to six weeks of working on this, MDOT has the money, wants to spend it, and everyone wants to get their bonuses at the end of the year. “All of these big engineering companies want to make all this money from the government. Neither party has ever stopped and asked questions of those affected.” did.

“They can’t argue with me that they did everything they could to let 16th Street businesses know what was going on. They weren’t asking for opinions, they wanted to spend the money on whatever they wanted.”

MDOT’s latest report to the 16th Street Commission said the project had been finalized and the time frame for challenging the issue had passed. Swindal said, even though there was no formal vote by the department. Seeking an attorney against the MDOT is one of the options some business owners have suggested, but the consensus within the committee is that attacking the issue from multiple angles is the most effective plan. It was to be.

“I wanted everyone here tonight to know that this isn’t something that can be fixed with just a phone call,” Swindal said. “This has to be a fight with MDOT.

“Listen, I know Tom King and Brad White at MDOT. , would rather do that than listen to business owners who provide most of the tax money and let them do whatever they want.They are not servants of the people.They are the people. reigns over the

To combat MDOT on this issue, the commission proposed to set up a number of subcommittees to put pressure on the department. A series of business and housing petitions, social media campaigns, working with the press, and fundraising for attorney fees when possible were all discussed. The committee has indicated that they will begin organizing soon. MDOT said the plan is definitely moving forward because of the high accident rate on 16th Street, but the business owner will emphasize that the road once had a median. However, it was removed in the late 1980s due to safety concerns.

Lawyers at the meeting, who wished to remain anonymous, agreed to develop a comprehensive plan for the committee reflecting the subcommittee’s thinking. Lawyers have a 65% chance of stopping construction of the median. I estimate. If it can’t be stopped, all the business owners in attendance expressed concern that declining accessibility to their businesses would hurt their bottom line.

“They said this would reduce traffic by 17%,” says Ken Keyes. “If we divert 17% of our traffic away from these businesses, how does it help retail? Then you have to do it.”

King was contacted but was not available for comment by press time Wednesday.

“It’s just frustrating to me that a government official could say there was no time for public comment when the time they had scheduled was not expedited.” I took the path of least resistance, with no concern for the people of Laurel, save for some safety concerns.”

At a June meeting on the project to which MDOT representatives were invited but did not attend, Rep. Donnie Scoggin (R-Ellisville) explained how the project came about, noting that it began at the federal level. explained.

“The Biden administration has a lot of money and they collected the data,” he said, adding that Laurel’s roads had “reached a threshold” in the number of traffic accidents “mandating these changes.” “That’s where it all started.”

He and other officials indicated that if MDOT received such an order from the federal government, it would have to make changes or risk losing federal funding. King is a “millionaire” official who manages highway projects in Jones County.

Another 16th Street business owner, Larry Loftin, said: “We have to fight this.”

“I have no choice but to reach out to Tom King. Good luck,” says Scoggin.