By Joe Rutherford
By JOE RUTHERFORD
The new Mississippi Highway 9 from Sherman to Highway 6/U.S. 278 near Pontotoc will be finished in mid-August.
Transportation Commissioner Mike Tagert made the announcement Tuesday, along with a tentative ribbon-cutting date of Aug. 16.
The 10-mile long, nearly $90 million four-lane highway links Toyota Motor Manufacturing Mississippi’s Blue Springs assembly plant to the key four-lane, east-west Mississippi 6/U.S. 278 highway corridor.
The final phase of the new Highway 6 is under paving contract and is expected to be completed from Pontotoc County near Black Zion to U.S. 45 in Tupelo in 2013.
Highway 9′s bid was let under a design-build contract, and construction started July 5, 2011. Eutaw Construction, Aberdeen, is the prime contractor.
The new roadway is east of the existing highway. The original anticipated completion was December 2012, but nearly ideal weather in the early months of construction accelerated the work.
MDOT on Tuesday said work this week is 90 percent complete, 25 percent ahead of schedule.
Tupelo District Engineer Bill Jamieson said the final 10 percent consists of completing the tie-ins at both ends, some asphalt work and some striping. Jamieson said no one should attempt to drive on the new road until an official announcement is made that it is open to traffic.
“I think (Eutaw) is doing a punch list as they move along, and they’re doing some clean-up that has to be done before everything is ready,” he said.
Jamieson said he anticipates a large crowd in the official party at the ribbon-cutting, which will be open to the public.