New Highway 9 cited as essential link in Toyota potential

By Joe Rutherford/NEMS Daily Journal

ENDVILLE – An overflow crowd of excited residents, elected leaders from the region, and contractors on Thursday morning formally celebrated the start of construction on the new Mississippi Highway 9, a four-lane artery from Pontotoc to Sherman that is on a fast track for completion in late 2012.
Gov. Haley Barbour, whose role in shaping a strategy to gain funding for the $87.5 million highway was cited by five other speakers, told the audience of about 300 the new road would be the “fastest completion of a significant highway” in the history of the Mississippi Department of Transportation.”
He cast the new highway as an essential logistical link in maximizing the immediate and longer-term impact of Toyota’s assembly plant at nearby Blue Springs in Union County. The northern terminus of the new road will link to Magnolia Way, the road leading from Sherman to the sprawling Toyota campus 3.5 miles to the west.
Barbour said the new Highway 9 is part of the infrastructure that will lead to development of an expanding network of Toyota suppliers and other new ventures, including in Pontotoc County.
Pontotoc is a member of the PUL Alliance of Pontotoc, Union and Lee counties, which has sought an auto-plant investment since 2002. Pontotoc has not won location of a supplier in the main, economic developers have said, because it lacked the four-lane link to Toyota.

Read more in Friday’s NEMS Daily Journal newspaper.

Click video to hear audio