Thursday, October 2, 2009
MDOT discusses I-269 path change at Byhalia
By SUE WATSON
Jessie Stewart and Richard Allen with the Mississippi Department of Transportation were invited guests of the board of supervisors recently. They were asked questions about a segment of I-269 north of Byhalia that was changed due to the location of a gravel pit.
Supervisor Keith Taylor, whose family home is one that will be removed with the coming of I-269, said people in the path of the new highway want to know exactly where the route will be so they can make plans.
“Is this the final plan?” he asked. “And what is the time frame to relocate people who have a house in the line of the route?”
Some people do not know whether their land will be bought and are hesitant to build a barn or add onto their homes, he said.
Allen said MDOT just completed the hub-line inspection walk where the line (center line) will be relocated.
“The purpose is to see the impact along the way,” Allen explained. “The report I got is that everything looked well with what we saw. So the plan is to continue.”
The section of new interstate under discussion is the trajectory east of Highway 78 all the way back to the Coldwater River and includes I-269 (in Tennessee), Allen said.
He said the route was changed because of the mining operations east of Highway 309 North across from the Byhalia Substation.
Taylor said he expects several others will come in to ask for mining permits to sell gravel that will be used in building I-69.
Allen said the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) will be protective of issuing mining permits along the part that is relocated.
Taylor asked if MDOT changed the route due to the presence of Standard Construction.
“Yes, you are exactly right,” Allen said. “Right now all we have is a line drawn on a piece of paper. After the right-of-way is determined, we will be able to tell people if it is going to get their house.”
Allen said the right-of-way plan should be ready in March 2009.
“Then we move to the maps and deeds section and finish that by July 2009,” he said.
Taylor asked what the planning commission and ultimately the board of supervisors can say to some people who want to mine in the area of the line.
“If MDEQ is going to deny it anyway, to keep the controversy down, we want to make sure if their is a need for them to come to zoning if you won't permit them,” Taylor said.
Allen said the hub-line is fully staked now as evidence of where the road will be. Maps and information on the relocated line are available for viewing online at MDOT.com, he said.
Stewart added there will be an interchange placed on Highway 309 North which means that more land will be bought up for that interchange.
Taylor explained that some people who have lived their entire lives are worried about losing their family homes and land to the road.
“I don’t know what to tell them,” he said.
He provided names and phone numbers of some residents who want to talk with MDOT directly.
Allen thinks after the right-of-way is planned, MDOT has good procedures to work with the public and give them the best offer for their property.
Taylor said people on his street want to know where they can find land for homesteads equal in quality to what they have already. People are worried that what they get for their property will not buy the same quality of replacement land and homes due to rising costs of real estate and home construction.
“Our relocation agents will go out into the community and try to find something comparable,” Allen said.
Taylor said close-knit families and communities are used to the low traffic and the closest match to what they have now is where land prices are higher.
“The cost to put them back into the same setting will not be dollar-to-dollar,” he said. “Will that be taken into consideration?”
“The relocation agents do the best they can,” Allen said.
“I am concerned that families living close together will be broken up,” Taylor said before introducing Erma Walker, whose home will have to be relocated.
“This is really going to affect me,” Walker said. “I’m comfortable where I live and have been there a while. I’ve done some renovations and I do not want to downsize. I’ve been there almost 50 years.'”
Allen listened, then told Walker that in March 2009 MDOT will come back and talk to people to see if their relatives will also be impacted and tell them what to expect.
Taylor said he lives in his wife’s family home with relatives all around.
“We all want to move and relocate as a family and want to know if we can stay together,” he said.
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