SOUTHAVEN, Mississippi — Southaven is expecting a traffic nightmare from Friday's opening of the Tanger regional mall.
City officials have made a series of changes on nearby roads, providing shuttle service for opening weekend and encouraging visitors to consider alternative routes.
Mayor Darren Musselwhite tells The Commercial Appeal (http://bit.ly/1j7i1K9) he hopes the modifications will ease flow as the city awaits long-term improvements to Interstate 55 from the Mississippi Department of Transportation.
"Obviously, we are faced with a difficult situation and I would not say that I am completely comfortable with the traffic in this area," Musselwhite said Tuesday, "but I am confident that we have done all that we can do as a city until MDOT provides the long-term solutions."
As a short-term remedy, the city will add or extend turn lanes on roads around the Tanger site at I-55 and Church Road, as well as use electronic message boards to caution motorists and monitor traffic in conjunction with MDOT. Also, overflow parking and shuttle service will be provided at the nearby Landers Center during the first two weekends from 6 a.m. until 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays.
Long-term, projects planned by MDOT widening I-55 from Church Road north to Miss. 302 in Southaven, scheduled to begin in mid-2018, and widening I-55 from Church Road south to Commerce Street in Hernando, beginning in mid-2019.
The cost of the two construction projects is estimated at $164 million.
Tanger, with more than 70 factory outlet stores, is expected to be a regional draw, employing about 1,000 and pumping some $7.5 million in sales tax revenue annually into the local economy.
Information from: The Commercial Appeal, http://www.commercialappeal.com