MDOT bids may be late

MDOT pulled projects from its bid cycle, at the last minute, that would have installed new traffic signals on U.S. 90 in Harrison County last month.

Now, the state transportation agency may not put the projects out for bid until as late as March.

The Federal Highway Administration said MDOT's structural designs needed to be beefed up to meet the hurricane threat.

"We think it's not going to be that big of a change," State Traffic Engineer Wes Dean said. "It's not going to be as radical as we once thought it might be."

MDOT hoped to be able to take bids this month, but couldn't get the projects drawn up in time. Officials are meeting Thursday to finalize decisions about the criteria the supports must meet, too late to make the midmonth deadline for the January cycle.

If the plans are finalized and checked by around Christmas, the bids could be taken in February, but Dean said there's a chance it could be as late as March.

MDOT had temporary signals installed along the highway, but only a handful are equipped with sensors that tell the lights when to signal based on traffic. The rest use simple timing circuits that can leave people waiting at stoplights where there's no crossing traffic in sight.

It doesn't have the manpower to do much else to improve the lighting, either.

"We have a very limited number of MDOT people that maintain signals," District Engineer Ricky Lee said. "They're doing all they do to keep roadway lights in as decent shape as they can and keeping signals actually working."