Official: Hurricane evacuation route shelved

By The Associated Press

BILOXI — A proposal to build a hurricane evacuation highway on the Mississippi coast has been shelved because of a lack of funding, a transportation official says.

Southern District Transportation Commissioner Wayne Brown told the Sun Herald on Friday that recent collections of fuel taxes have not raised enough money to proceed with the Mississippi 15 proposal.

Brown said that over the past 10 years, costs for asphalt have jumped from $35 per ton to about $85 now with the prospect of another increase to $95.

Residents in Latimer have objected to the idea, saying the project is unnecessary and would hurt the quality of life and environment in the rural Jackson County community. Brown also had been criticized for owning land between the proposed routes — and a Harrison County legislator has said the project is not legal.

“Every time you see the cost of fuel go up, we have to reevaluate our projects,” Brown said. “Our costs are going up, but our money is staying the same.”

Brown said the Mississippi 15 proposal is still needed, particularly as a hurricane-evacuation route for Jackson County, and he said it would relieve congestion on other roads. He also has said routing it through Jackson County allows it to miss National Guard property at Camp Shelby and forest preserves.