Logging in the median of Interstate 10 north of Ocean Springs was part of the $39.5 million interstate widening project from the beginning, officials said.
The logging has been going on for more than a week along 1.6 miles of the interstate median. Tall pines and smaller hardwoods were mixed in the dense woods that had grown in the wide median between the eastbound and westbound lanes of the major highway.
Logging trucks this week hauled out trailer after trailer of logs as hundreds of drivers passing each day watched.
A spokesman for the Mississippi Department of Transportation explained that the agency decided to clear the median to:
▪ Make it easier for drivers to see ahead in the case of wrecks or traffic snarls along the interstate.
▪ Keep trees away from the lanes of traffic in case a car or truck leaves the roadway. They don’t want them to hit a tree.
The median now will be bare between the eastbound and westbound lanes, but the space between the opposing lanes of traffic will still be considered wide enough to forgo MDOT putting up wire barriers in the median. Such barriers are used to keep a car that runs off the road in one direction from crossing the median and hitting traffic coming in the opposite direction.
MDOT said such protections are for medians that are 48 feet wide or less.
MDOT did not select the logging company. Mallette Brothers Construction in Gautier won the bid for the multi-million dollar widening project and has the option of subcontracting any or all parts of it, MDOT said. Mallette Brothers chose the way the median would be cleared.
The project also includes adding a lane to three pairs of bridges and work at the Mississippi 57 interchange.