GRI Watches U.S. 49 From Above

Geosystems Research Institute
June 27, 2005

SOUTH and CENTRAL MISSISSIPPI - Mississippi State University (MSU) scientists will use high-resolution satellite and aerial imagery to help state highway corridor planners improve traffic flow and access along a busy stretch of U.S. 49 linking Jackson and the Gulf Coast.

The university's GeoResources Institute (GRI) will use its remote sensing and spatial information technologies to help the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) analyze environmental conditions and examine various design scenarios that could better serve communities and enhance economic development along an approximately 100-mile segment from Wiggins to Florence.

"This project will demonstrate that economic development, land use and sustainability planning may be enhanced by remote sensing and spatial information technologies utilized in integrated approaches to planning transportation corridors," said Chuck O'Hara, a GRI researcher and principal investigator on the project.

O'Hara said the MSU team will work closely with MDOT's planning, environmental, roadway design and photogrammetry divisions to deploy and integrate technologies that provide a common "base map" for all groups involved in the project along the highway route. It will allow MDOT to share data and exchange products seamlessly between divisions, he pointed out.

"This is an interesting, challenging and far-reaching approach to a transportation solution, where creative and innovative ideas can contribute to the decision-making process," said Claiborne Barnwell, MDOT environmental division engineer. "This corridor is vital to the economics of South-central Mississippi, and if the capacity and safety can be improved without harming the existing and potential economic prosperity, then this becomes a true win-win situation."

This article orginally appeared in the Mississippi Business Journal Online.

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