By Joe Rutherford/NEMS Daily Journal
Editorial Design-Build shaves months off Highway completion.
Rain and last-minute paving work delayed for about two hours the scheduled Monday morning opening of the new Mississippi Highway 9, but by noon all four lanes were humming with traffic.
The 9.5-mile route runs between Sherman and U.S. 278/Highway 6 north of Pontotoc.
Construction employees of APAC, the paving subcontractor for the $87 million project awarded July 5, 2011, to Eutaw Construction of Aberdeen, were on the scene working Monday morning.
The Mississippi Department of Transportation announced late last week that the new highway, which replaces an existing two-lane highway, would open Monday, well ahead of its originally scheduled December completion.
MDOT District Engineer Bill Jamieson, who works out of Tupelo, had said earlier he expected the contractors to be working until the highway opened, with some “wrap up” work “around the edges” continuing for several weeks.
Pavement was being laid even after Monday’s opening at the north and south connectors for the new roadway.
At other places along the gently curving new route through rolling hills covered with both forests and extensive row-crop cultivation, contractors were putting last-minute touches on parts of the roadway, completing sod work and manning exits to give motorists’ directions, as needed.
Jamieson said contractors have to complete some “washes” on the main roadway, remove temporary paving and get ready for the repaving of the old Highway 9, which will become a Pontotoc County road after resurfacing.
The new highway is Type 2-B construction: limited grade-level crossings and overpasses at key county roads. Jamieson said the new highway will never have numerous residential or commercial driveways or businesses with direct access to the main road.
The four-lane design is specifically directed toward economic development in Pontotoc, Union and Lee counties, the member-counties of the PUL Alliance, the official advocacy corps for Toyota Motor Manufacturing Mississippi’s assembly plant near Blue Springs and spin-off, affiliated development.