Business owners gather to discuss MDOT 16th Avenue project

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

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

“We have business owners who have businesses on 16th Avenue who have publicly stated to me and publicly stated in the newspaper that their businesses on Highway 49 have seen a 40% reduction in revenue and customers” said 16th Avenue committee spokesman Ron Swindall. “When you have such a significant reduction in revenue and customers, that’s something that’s devastating for businesses.”

The growing concern has led business owners to start petitions, talk to local authorities and even seek legal advice.

However, MDOT’s potential plan is to implement carriageway medians to help motorists turn safely. Swindall added,

“It’s harder to pass because there are barriers between the turns, and it’s easier instead of going all the way and turning around where MDOT designed the turns to work. , they’re going to take back roads where there are residences,” Swindall said.

MDOT held a public hearing for citizens to voice their suggestions and concerns; however, several companies want MDOT back on the drawing board.

In fact, says Swindall,

“The project as it stands needs to be completely scrapped, and MDOT, instead of spending millions of dollars on a project, we don’t need, by the way, millions of dollars of debt that we don’t. ‘We don’t need to spend on this project, they need to spend about $100,000 to study what else can be done,’ Swindell says.

Although the project specifically affects businesses on 16th Avenue, several business owners feel the need to join the fight to stop the project from happening.

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

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