Michael Baker International to assist in reconstruction of major Mississippi route


Engineering and planning consultancy Michael Baker International (MBI) has announced a partnership with the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) to reconstruct an 8 mile-long (12.8km) stretch of US Route 49 in the Jackson metropolitan area.

MBI has been awarded the US$19.3m Construction Engineering and Inspection (CE&I) contract and will prioritize safety, communication and efficiency to complete the complex project. The roadway is a primary arterial route from the state capital of Jackson to the Mississippi Gulf Coast. More than 50,000 vehicles travel on the road each day, and it serves as a key component in the state’s hurricane evacuation plan.

The current four-lane highway has heavy commercial development along the northern end of the project and requires additional lanes and roadway updates to improve mobility and reduce congestion. The completed project will achieve a safer and more efficient route for Jackson commuters and those traveling through the metro area.

The MBI team is providing construction inspection, survey, and post-design services on the three-year, multi-phase project, which focuses on the stretch from Florence to the Scale Area in Rankin County. The team and its partners will construct a six-lane route, including curb and gutter with a closed drainage system.

Throughout the construction, the team will focus on traffic safety and the efficient movement of vehicle flow, as lane closures and re-routing will occur in each phase of the project. Working with MDOT, the team will provide consistent communication of current roadway conditions and scheduled construction actives to the public and affected local businesses.

Technology will play a key role in the project implementation and delivery, including the use of MBI’s mobile lidar systems to capture a visual record of the site at preconstruction. This innovative approach provides a more efficient solution over traditional methods of cataloging information, and will facilitate the rapid and accurate collection of digital data to inform reconstruction design plans. The team will also use iPads and Miovision traffic cameras to enhance the project. Reconstruction of US 49 is scheduled to be completed by late 2020, and will anticipate an average daily traffic (ADT) of 58,000 by that time.

“US 49 has historically been one of the most important routes in Mississippi, and has been a keystone project for our local operations,” said Ray Balentine, office executive for MBI’s Mississippi operations. “We understand the complexities of this highway and the reconstruction task, and look forward to collaborating with MDOT to make this roadway safer and more efficient.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).