Business owners meet to discuss MDOT 16th Avenue project

LAUREL, Mississippi (WDAM) – Business owners along 16th Avenue in Laurel met tonight to discuss how the Mississippi Department of Transportation could potentially impact businesses.

Many business owners dread the thought of having to close down because of this possibility.

“We have business owners who have stores on 16th Avenue who publicly stated to me and have publicly stated in the newspaper that their Highway 49 stores saw a 40 percent drop in revenue and customers,” the spokesman for the 16th said Avenue Committee, Ron Swindall. “When you lose that much income and customers, it’s devastating for businesses.”

Growing concern has prompted business owners to start petitions, speak to local officials and even seek legal advice.

However, MDOT’s potential plan is to implement sidewalk median strips to help motorists make safe turns. Swindall added,

“It’s harder to get through because there are obstacles between the turns and it’s easier, rather than going all the way down and turning around, which is where MDOT designed U-turns to work, they’re going to take some back roads where there are apartment buildings.” .” said Swindall.

MDOT held a public hearing for citizens to voice their suggestions and concerns; However, several companies would like MDOT to return to the drawing board.

In fact, Swindall says:

“The project as it is now has to be abandoned completely and MDOT, by the way, instead of spending millions of dollars on a project, we don’t need millions of dollars in debt we don’t have to spend on the project, they have to spend about $100,000 to explore what else can be done,” says Swindell.

Although the project specifically affects businesses along 16th Avenue, several business owners feel the need to join the fight to prevent the project from going ahead.

“My business isn’t on 16th Avenue, it’s in downtown Laurel, but that’s why when a business owner is impacted, we all come together as a team to stand hand in hand and show our support,” says Marian Allen, the director of the Laurel-Jones County Black History Museum and Arts.

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