Decades of working to open up east-west traffic flow from the interstate to Old Canton Road and the federal government throws a wrench into things.

Colony Park Boulevard is paved, striped, signaled at U.S. 51 and ready for traffic to flow except the all-important railroad crossing is barricaded.

Years of work and it comes down to there are apparently not enough crews to install crossing signals due to federal railroad mandates.

Colony Park Boulevard is a $10.5 million primary east-west connector that was set to open in late 2018 but has since been delayed until the spring. 

MDOT is waiting on on the railroad and the railroad is tied up with the government mandates.

“We are waiting on the railroad,” said MDOT?spokesperson Jason Scott. “Engineers are expecting the project to be completed in early Spring.”

The delay stems from a larger nationwide problem resulting from new safety mandates by the Federal Railroad Administration. 

“This is not the only project in Mississippi that CNR has pulled off and the reason they have pulled off Colony Park and several other projects around the state is the shortage of signal crews,” Scott explained. 

“There’s a shortage because all of the railroad companies are trying to meet a deadline put to them by the Federal Railroad Administration.”

The FRA required railroad companies to implement a new technology called positive train control in an effort to prevent derailments and collisions. A deadline was set for the end of 2018, with many companies filing for extensions. 

“They are trying to meet that federal deadline on all these crossings,” Scott said.

CNR declined to comment on the Colony Park Boulevard situation. 

Construction began on Colony Park Boulevard in the fall of 2017. The road intersects near Hite B. Wolcott Park at McClellan Drive, which connects to Old Canton Road. 

Ridgeland Mayor Gene F. McGee has said that Colony Park Boulevard and the Lake Harbour Extension project will improve the east-west traffic flow in the city and relieve congestion on Jackson Street. City officials are hopeful of turning Jackson Street into an identifiable, walkable downtown area for the city. 

The first estimated completion date for Colony Park Boulevard was October 2018, but that was later pushed to November and then December due in part to weather. 

Colony Park Boulevard was a new roadway created following the $85 million I-55 split-diamond interchange project completed by MDOT over four years ago.

The split diamond interchange has already opened up Madison Avenue and reduced a lot of east-west stress, but Colony Park is still an essential part of the mix that needs to be expedited.