EDITORIAL: Completion in sight

By NEMS Daily Journal

The Mississippi Department of Transportation released encouraging reports this week about major highway projects in northern Mississippi, with major progress, mostly out of public view, on key components of a regionwide four-lane network.
The update shows that a major link in Mississippi Highway 6 from Pontotoc to Tupelo is scheduled for roadbed completion in 2011, followed by paving.
The $29 million project is an urban link in what will become uninterrupted four-lane access to Oxford and Interstate 55 when opened.
The work involves the new Highway 6 and Mississippi Highway 145 (the old U.S. 5) from the relocated Highway 6 from near the Natchez Trace Parkway to 145 at near the Green Street connector to U.S. Highway 45. The project, visible from major roads, is south of Tupelo in Lee County and is 43 percent complete. The section will complete grading work on the new Highway 6 from Mississippi Highway 342 in Pontotoc County into Tupelo. A paving contract will follow the completion of the grading project to connect into south Tupelo.
– A related project for milling and overlay on U.S. Highway 278/Highway 6 from the Tallahatchie River through Batesville to Interstate 55. The $3.7 million contract will improve eight miles of U.S. 278/Mississippi 6, which eventually will be four-laned from Batesville to Clarksdale, a further extension of regional four-lane networking.
– The Mississippi Highway 30 bypass in Booneville is virtually complete in the roadwork phase, and paving/bridgework has started under a $19 million contract, with completion expected in 2011. The total contract is about $50 million.
– Work on a safety interchange at Euclatubba Road and U.S. 45 in Saltillo is underway. Clearing has been completed and earthwork started on the west side of the interchange, approximately 25 percent complete. The $6.7 million contract began in September 2009, with a completion date near the beginning of April 2011.
Persistence has driven highway development in our state and in the Northeast Mississippi region. Lack of full funding makes some important projects maddeningly slow, but even incremental work eventually makes connections.
Completed highways are the best argument for full, timely highway funding, and its the public’s responsibility to get the Legislature to agree.