MDOT starts second-round forums on Hwy 15 expansion - - The News for South Mississippi

MDOT starts second-round forums on Hwy 15 expansion


By Sylvia Hall – bio | email

JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Latimer residents poured over MDOT maps Tuesday night, showing six possible paths for a new billion dollar highway.  The maps have changed since one of those routes, Alternative C, had many of these residents outraged last year as it threatened to break up their tight-knit community.
"The biggest change that most people in Latimer are going to see is what we call Alternative C which is what he had at the last public meeting," said Gulf Coast Regional Engineer Kelly Castleberry.  "Now we have alternative C-1 which moves it to the north of the Latimer community and to the southern edge of the Desoto national forest."

Castleberry said the route was altered because Latimer residents spoke up about it.  While the new route would still affect private property and several homes, Michael Martin is one of the many who can breathe a sigh of relief.

"Route C was significantly going to impact not my personal property, but a lot of my neighbors' property," said Martin.  "I was happy to see that it would bypass the largest subdivision in Latimer."

But Martin, as with many at the meeting, still wants route C-1 off the map and Hwy 15 to stay in its place.

"I'm still not happy in the fact that the route going through Latimer seems to be very costly," said Martin.  "I hope the highway uses the existing Highway 15."

At this point, MDOT officials said no route is preferred and they welcome the public's opinion on all of them.

"We want to make sure the road is put in the best place," said Castleberry.  "And the environmental process makes sure that we address all concerns, which is the citizens' concerns, any environmental concerns, makes sure that all of the concerns are met and that we put the road in the best place. And that's what it is, is a balance between all the aspects of the environmental phase."

Another new route on the list included extending Hwy 15 east along I-10 and north up Hwy 57.  Meetings will be held again Wednesday night in Benndale and then Thursday night in the McClain and Beaumont communities.

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