Gov.: Suppliers need Highway 9 to be four lanes

TUPELO – Gov. Haley Barbour said Monday that four-laning part of state Highway 9 near Toyota Motor Corp.’s plant near Blue Springs is important for suppliers to the automaker.
The Legislature on Sunday approved a $422.9 million bond bill that included $50 million for highway improvements. About $40 million is for four-laning Highway 9 north of the Toyota plant to Highway 348.
“If we want to have suppliers up 45 above Tupelo in Prentiss County, Alcorn, Tishomingo and south of Tippah, these suppliers generally use some kind of just-in-time delivery … they’re going to have to have better roads,” he said.
Barbour said the four-laning will provide a truck route for the suppliers, who won’t have to rumble down U.S. Highway 45 and hop onto U.S. Highway 78 toward the Blue Springs plant, officially called Toyota Motor Manufacturing Mississippi.
“Drivers won’t like it, and it would be hard on the suppliers,” Barbour said.
He added that the four-laning is the “cheapest alternative route, cheaper than a bypass around Tupelo.”
“We’re trying to get suppliers to Northeast Mississippi,” Barbour continued.
Four-laning Highway 9 to 348 will be an added incentive for suppliers, he said, because they won’t be able to move move as efficiently without the project being done.
Barbour said Highway 348 is sufficient for now.
“It’s in pretty good shape,” he said.

Contact Dennis Seid at (662) 678-1578 or dennis.seid@journalinc.com.

Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal