Port road, Highway 27 priorities, Hall says

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 10, 2002

[05/10/02]The Vicksburg Port Road and four-laning of Mississippi 27 are top priorities for the Mississippi Department of Transportation and for himself personally, Dick Hall said in Vicksburg Thursday.

Hall, who was appointed by former Gov. Kirk Fordice to fill the unexpired term of Wayne Burkes and later was elected to a full term, was addressing the Vicksburg Rotary Club when he talked about the two projects and several others in the Vicksburg area.

“The Vicksburg Port Road (is) a high priority under Vision 21,” the new highway program passed by the 2002 Legislature, Hall said. That’s “a road we really do need to build.”

The road was proposed during the 1993-97 administration of Mayor Joe Loviza to help get 18-wheeler traffic off Clay, Cherry and Washington streets in Vicksburg. The road would be built roughly parallel to Sherman Avenue from U.S. 61 North at Bowie Road to North Washington Street near the E.W. Haining Industrial Center.

“We’re still uncertain how we are going to do that, exactly the route it’s going to take,” Hall said.

He said a route cannot be chosen until MDOT completes work on geotechnical studies.

“It is on our front burner, and Jimmy Heidel (executive vice president of the Chamber of Commerce) works hard to make sure we keep it there,” Hall said.

“State route 27 (is) absolutely a personal high priority of mine,” he said.

The four-laning of the state highway from Vicksburg to Crystal Springs has been under study by MDOT for several years to help alleviate the danger from 18-wheelers that use the highway as a route between Interstates 20 and 55. The project had been tentatively scheduled to begin in the next three to five years.

Hall said he used the highway to help get the Legislature to pass Vision 21.

“I think with this Vision 21, I will be able to move it up on the priority list,” Hall said.

The really big project for the Vicksburg area is total reconstruction of Interstate 20 through Vicksburg.

“You are talking many, many big dollars,” Hall said. “Let me tell you how it can happen.”

He said when U.S. Sen. Trent Lott was Senate majority leader, he got $100 million for the new highway bridge at Greenville, over and above the other federal funding.

“It was pie-cutting time and he was there when the pie was getting cut and he was in charge of the pie,” Hall said. “Now, that’s what we’ve got to have to redo I-20.”

Hall also said:

Overlaying U.S. 61 from Redwood to Onward is about 50 percent complete.

The new bridge over the Yazoo River at Redwood is scheduled for 2004 at a cost of $29.5 million.

Reconstruction of U.S. 61 from the Vicksburg Municipal Airport and Warrenton Road is set for 2004. The project is to remove the median, widen the road, place curbs, repave and stripe it.