The University of Mississippi Medical Center will begin work this week on major improvements to its campus. The first phase includes preparation for road construction on campus, the creation of a new campus entrance on Lakeland Drive, and improvements to the Woodrow Wilson entrance that will eventually make it the "front door" to UMMC.
The 30-year campus master plan calls for the creation of a ring road along the edge of the campus and a new entrance from Lakeland Drive at the northeast corner of the campus. The new entrance, near St. Dominic Hospital, will greatly improve traffic flow, especially during the morning and evening rush hours.
Construction of the entrance will require removal of three curbed medians on Lakeland Drive. That project will necessitate the removal of seven mature live oak trees from among about 20 planted in the medians that occupy the middle of Lakeland Drive from St. Dominic's to the Old Canton Road intersection.
"Removing trees is something we try to avoid if at all possible but in this case we have no choice," said David Powe, UMMC chief administrative officer. "However, we are in discussions with representatives of the Fondren community and hope to donate trees to their planned project to improve and beautify the Fondren business district."
UMMC will use a standard formula for mitigating tree loss in determining the proper number of replacement trees.
The improvements to campus are needed to handle the growth in vehicle traffic on campus and to pave the way for construction of two new campus buildings devoted to medical education and research as well as a new parking garage.
Removal of the trees and relocation of gas lines on Lakeland Drive will begin in the next few days and are expected to pose minimal disruption to traffic.