JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Efforts to widen Highway 57 between I-10 and Vancleave have come to a halt.
MDOT's executive director told a senate committee on Friday that she's shelving widening project to save money. MDOT's plan was to widen Highway 57 from two lanes to four lanes.
"I hope they can find a funding solution here shortly and get back on track with it," said Randy Bosarge with the Jackson County Board of Supervisors.
An MDOT spokesman says roadwork could have started in the next 15 months.
"It's an evacuation route that west side of Jackson County needs. Right now, you just don't have a wide enough north and south corridor for west Jackson County," Bosarge noted. "East Jackson County has the Highway 63 which goes into Highway 45 which goes to the north part of the state, but in Jackson County on the west side of the county, we don't have any north or south evacuation other than over Harrison County where the Highway 67 ties into Highway 49."
The second project to put on hold - which would widen Highway 90 between Ocean Springs and Gautier - is still in the concept stage. MDOT developed preliminary designs to expand the highway from four lanes to six lanes. The work would have started at Vermont Avenue in Ocean Springs and extended to Dolphin Drive in Gautier.
The original plan was to begin that widening work in 2020 or 2021. But, like the other Jackson County project previously mentioned, it's indefinitely tabled because because of a tight state budget.
"I just hope our legislators throughout the state try to work on some kind of funding mechanism to go back to building more roads in the state. Not only in Jackson County, but throughout out the whole state for economic development purposes, evacuation routes. I mean, just the overall enhancement of the future traffic that's going to be coming to the state with economic development opportunities and more growth in general," said Bosarge.
Also halted amid budget concerns: plans to make I-10 a continuous six-lane highway from the Mississippi/Louisiana line to exit 28, and from Vancleave to Franklin Creek Road.
Although some lawmakers are in favor of increasing taxes to pay for roads and bridges, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves wants to remained focused on saving money.