By Joe Rutherford
TUPELO – Construction on the West Barnes Crossing Road Bridge and interchange crossing U.S. Highway 78 near Belden is on schedule for a September completion, MDOT construction engineer Jamie McDonald said this week.
The $10.5 million bridge, contracted to Century Construction of Tupelo, has been underway since mid-March, with a 200-day timetable. McDonald and other Mississippi Department of Transportation officials have had almost daily contact on the construction site. Some of the work was executed at night to avoid the heaviest traffic hours.
The bridge and its access and exit ramps are the final link in the long-planned “northern loop” of the Major Thoroughfare Program.
The new roadway crosses Town Creek bottom, intersects with Mount Vernon Road and crosses the Natchez Trace Parkway on another new bridge completed this summer. The Trace bridge provides no access to the national parkway.
The new West Barnes Crossing Road provides a new route for traffic off U.S. 78 to get to the Barnes Crossing commercial district. It’s expected to relieve congestion on North Gloster and allow easier access to and from the sprawling, still-expanding Barnes Crossing area.
McDonald said the precise date of completion depends on the weather from now until the end of the contract period.
The Major Thoroughfare Program is a voter-approved Tupelo initiative funded by a 10-mill property tax for each phase of the program. The tax raises about $4 million per year.