Thursday, April 20, 2006
Minor talks highways
By BARRY BURLESON
Someone asked Bill Minor recently about the status of some highway signs in the Marshall County area.
“It will be awhile,” Minor said was his response. “We’re snowed under; the hurricane wiped out all of the signs on the Gulf Coast.”
Roads, bridges, signs and the like in the coastal region will cost the Mississippi Department of Transportation approximately $1 billion, thanks to Hurricane Katrina.
“We may have some problems here,” said Minor, the transportation commissioner for the Northern District during a talk to the Holly Springs Rotary Club, “but we’re a lot better off than they are on the Gulf Coast. There’s nothing there.”
He complimented U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran, U.S. Sen. Trent Lott and Gov. Haley Barbour for 100 percent federal funding of the necessary work on the coast.
“No state has ever gotten that,” Minor said. “It all had to do with our governor and our people in Washington D.C. Senator Cochran would not go home until it passed.”
The various projects on the coast will likely take 10 years or more to complete, he said.
“We’re coming back from Katrina, and when we do, we will be better,” Minor said.
He also updated Rotarians on some local highway work.
He said the Highway 4 bypass around Senatobia will be open sometime this fall. Upgrading and some straightening of Highway 4 from Galena on into Tate County continues.
Work has begun on getting Highway 78 (Future I-22) up to interstate standards. Extra footage will be added on each side of the road, with more on the right shoulder to leave room for vehicles to pull off.
“It will be five or six years before it is an interstate,” Minor said. “It has to tie to another interstate.”
The possibilities are I-269 in northwest Mississippi or I-65 in Alabama at Birmingham.
“Alabama is short of money, but we’re hoping to tie I-22 to 65 in five or six years.”
About $40 million will be spent on a new interchange at New Albany adjacent to Park Chevrolet.
“I-22 will mean a lot to us here (in Marshall County),” he said. “A lot of people looking at coming here are only looking at interstates.”
He said Mississippi intends to four-lane Highway 72 in the northern part of Marshall County all the way to the Tennessee line, which will be “valuable to Chickasaw Trail.”
I-69 is under construction between Hernando and U.S. 61. I-269 will run from the junction of I-55 and I-69, north of Hernando, east and north through Marshall County into Tennessee.
He also said the route of I-269, crossing Highway 78 near the Marshall-DeSoto line, running just west of Byhalia near the town limits, crossing Highway 309 North and going parallel to 309 and through the Chickasaw Trail Industrial Park will “cause all kinds of economic development.”
I-269 will tie into I-69 at Highway 385 just outside of Collierville, Tenn.
He also said a recent meeting in Oxford focused “on trying to do something with Highway 7” from Holly Springs to I-55 below Coffeeville.
“We’re working to get that going,” Minor said.
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