New Connector Road Becoming Reality - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

01/24/05

New Connector Road Becoming Reality

Transportation officials call the proposed Canal Road Connector "the new Interstate 49," as it will begin at the Port of Gulfport, flow to I-10 and eventually on to Jackson.

Butch Brown, Mississippi Department of Transportation Commissioner, says, "It's one of the most traveled highways in our state, if not the most, and certainly it deserves attention for many reasons. Both economic development and, of course, safety enters into it and mobility of the people that are involved."

The road will be built according to federal interstate specs. That guarantees the feds will repay 80% of the $70 million pledged by the Harrison County Supervisors. The state will use fuel tax collections to retire the bonds.

Brown calls the deal innovative.

"That allows us to accelerate the construction of projects and move them forward into the utilities phase where the people can use this project many years sooner than as originally projected and proposed."

The money put up by the county will pay for the preliminary work like engineering fees and rights of way. That is expected to take three years to finish before construction actually starts. One supervisor says it's well worth the wait.

"As Butch says, the dollars are just tremendous savings and the likelihood of it being for the future has not been very good, I don't think. This is truly, truly great for this county," says District 2 Supervisor Larry Benefield.

The first phase of road construction is expected to cost $300 million. MDOT says without the financing arrangement, it would be another 12 to 15 years before work got underway.

byMarcia Hill

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