HARRISON COUNTY (WLOX) -- Drivers headed between Gulfport and Saucier can now take advantage of a new shortcut. Late Tuesday afternoon, MDOT opened the $42 million northern section of the new Highway 67 in Harrison County.
This is what this means to drivers. If you take the Cowan Lorraine Road exit off Interstate 10, you can travel Highway 605 to new Highway 67 that will then lead you all the way to Highway 49 in Saucier.
Workers trying to get new Highway 67 ready for traffic on Tuesday had a lot to do before crossing the finish line.
Gabe Faggard is the project engineer.
"We are putting on the permanent striping. The contractor is tying up the last details to get the road open. There's some clean up work that's underway. We're removing some of the barricades so that we can get it open to traffic," Faggard said.
Around 3pm, crews rolled away the cones and road closed signs and the cars rolled in. It was a day many motorists welcomed.
"Straight shot," said one driver. "Save all them red lights going down there to Gulfport."
Allowing drivers to skip congestion around Highway 49 and Interstate 10 is exactly the reason MDOT officials say this road project began.
"If you get caught by all the lights on 49, and of course all the congestion and shopping," said project manager Kelly Castleberry. "Roughly anywhere from 45 to 60 minutes in that commute. Or you can do roughly 20 minutes from 49 all the down to I-10 down 605."
"Of course, everybody is getting squeezed now with gas prices, so everybody's time is worth money as well. So ultimately with those two things, people save money in the end."
Seven years after they started, MDOT officials say it feels good to see traffic moving here on the northern section of the new Highway 67. They plan to stick around as drivers may need some time to getting used to it all.
"We're making sure there's nothing that we forgot and making sure that all the details have been taken care of," said Faggard. "That we have a smooth opening and everything works out fine for the motorists. "