PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - Transportation officials said a $21 million project could become what stands between Jackson County and a large scale environmental disaster. Crews are constructing an interchange where Highway 90 meets Highway 611 to the south and Highway 63 to the north.
Cars. Trains. Trucks. MDOT officials said that's a dangerous mix for the large industrial area along Highway 611.
"One of the industries in this area is the Chevron Refinery which is one of the largest refineries in the country," said Gabe Faggard, MDOT Area Engineer. "With that you have a large amount of truck traffic carrying petroleum products and other chemical products. With a crossing of a railroad at ground level, it's a significant possibility of an impact from a train or a traveling motorist on Highway 90."
But soon trains and as well as traffic on Highway 90 won't cross paths with 18 wheelers headed to Highway 611's industrial plants. Thanks to a state grant secured by the Jackson County Supervisors, a new interchange is under construction.
"The new Highway 611 and 63 interchange will be a four lane elevated highway across highway 90 with a signalized intersection at ground level," said Faggard. "But the majority of traffic on highway 611 and 63 will travel over the railroad. The highway so motorists can expect increase width of the roadway to allow more traffic to travel through the area."
The new road will tie into the current Highway 63 about a mile north of highway 90 at Frederick Street. Initially the new road will go as far south as Old Mobile Highway. MDOT officials said later this year bids will go out for a second phase to extend the new road all the way to the Chevron refinery.
MDOT officials say the interchange should be complete in 2013.