PEOPLE’S CHOICE WINNER!
“The successful completion of the project is highly acclaimed and worthy of recognition for its achievements.”
Susan B. Vincent
The Mississippi Department of Transportation team reconstructed and realigned an elevated segment of I-59 through Laurel, Mississippi, eliminating the notorious “Laurel S-Curve,” which had one of the highest crash rates in the state.
The 3,700-foot stretch of I-59 was constructed prior to adoption of current Interstate standards and wove through urban obstacles. Motorists were confronted with sharp curves, narrow lanes, low clearances, no shoulders, and inadequate merge areas, which are unexpected on the Interstate system. This was especially dangerous because I-59 is an evacuation route for New Orleans and other Gulf Coast communities and handles regional freight traffic from the Port of New Orleans and the Port of Gulfport.
The reconstructed segment crosses six local streets and the Norfolk Southern Railroad, requiring a 1,980-foot-long, six-lane bridge structure featuring reverse horizontal curves that meet current Interstate standards. In addition to the main structure, a total of 1,350 feet of elevated ramp structures, two on-ramps, and one off-ramp connect to the elevated portion of the main bridge.
Challenges included constructing replacement housing for residents of a 72-unit public housing facility, addressing natural resource impacts, making significant design modifications to accommodate updated traffic volumes, new stakeholder priorities, the skyrocketing cost of steel, and minimizing construction impacts. The team pioneered innovative financing methods that enabled the launch of the project at least three years earlier than otherwise would have been possible.
Reconstruction of the Laurel S-Curve began in July 2006 and was completed in September 2009. The project dramatically improved safety, smoothed traffic flow, was responsive to the needs of the community, and ultimately was delivered under budget. In fact, design changes, proactive coordination, and innovative financing produced a budget surplus of $6 million, which is being used to widen five additional I-59 bridges and two additional miles of roadway north of the S-Curve.