NOLA.com - Contraflow changes will keep hurricane evacuees on I-59, I-55 longer
Yeah, this will improve things. Right. Sure. Keep people on the Interstate even longer when they're running for their lives.
OK, so people evacuating from storms will have a bit farther to go before being able to disperse off the Interstate. I-59 traffic won't be able to exit until Purvis, while I-55 traffic will be on there until at least Brookhaven. Either way, Contraflow will END! at that point.
Now, while this means Contraflow will go longer than it used to (just shy of McComb on I-55 and just shy of Poplarville on I-59), it will only delay the inevitable backup that will occur when they try to squeeze four lanes into two. Some of that could be averted by forcing one or two of the lanes to exit at that point, sure, but we all know that won't happen. It's also still not fixing the overall I-59 problem - the contraction of the mainline into a single lane near Meridian. Honestly. Do you think all those evacuees are looking to get off in Purvis?! Hell no. They're heading for Birmingham, Chattanooga, Atlanta and points beyond if they're on I-59. You know us, Mississippi - we're not simly looking to get out of the immediate area of the storm, we may as well head for the next large city. You got none on I-59.
The I-55 plan isn't so bad - you can get off at Brookhaven and head west to Natchez on a nearly empty four-lane highway (or even to someplace like Vicksburg or Alexandria after Natchez). Also, as far as I'm aware, I-55 doesn't shed a lane in Jackson. (Someone who's been on I-55 North, feel free to correct me if needed.)
What we really need is more defined and better-capacity evacuation routes other than the Interstate (LA 25 would be a logical one, connecting straight on to the Causeway via US 190), possibly even implementing Contraflow on these local arteries. We also need to educate our locals better on these routes.
I'll at least try to educate you in a later post. Better pack it full of fuel in the meantime.