Stimulus money will finally shine a light on Highway 603 - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Stimulus money will finally shine a light on Highway 603

HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) -

By Al Showers

HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) – Highway 603 in Hancock County will soon be a much brighter road to travel. Street lights will be installed along a five mile stretch of the highway, south of Interstate 10.

The lights on the busy highway are a dream come true for a lot of Hancock County residents. Highway 603 is one of the heaviest traveled roadways in the county. Before it was four laned in the early 90s, it had quite a reputation for being one of the most deadly roadways on the coast. Some folks even had bumper stickers that said, "Pray for me. I drive 603."

Bay St. Louis Mayor Les Fillingame remembers those days well.

"The state came in and did the four laning several years prior to Katrina," Fillingame said. "That has eased the pain somewhat, but there is still a significant safety issue on that stretch of Highway for night-time travel because of the darkness."

A ground-breaking ceremony on Thursday signaled the start of a major highway lighting project. In the medians, 135 dual mast lights will be installed from I-10 to Longfellow Road, near the old DeRussey motors building.

"It's going to be a typical median style construction where you have the main pole in the middle of the median, and of course the two arms that extend out to cover both lanes," said Mayor Fillingame.

For Tish Williams, the news is exciting for both personal and professional reasons. She's the Executive Director of the Hancock County Chamber of Commerce.

"Professionally it means we now have the most beautiful gateway to Hancock County coming through the lighting of Highway 603," Williams said. "And this particular area of 603 is named in memory of my grandfather Norton Haas. So I know he's smiling up in heaven to see this wonderful progress for Hancock County."

"Anytime you bring light to an otherwise dark thoroughfare, it brings new life to the entire roadway," Fillingame said.

The $700,000 project is being funded through The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, or what many refer to as the stimulus package. The lights are expected to be operational in late September or early October of 2010.

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