Frontage Road extension funds coming to city
Published 9:46 am Thursday, April 2, 2015
Vicksburg has hit the jackpot in the Mississippi Legislature this year. Less than a week after Senate Bill 2926 — a bill aimed at helping fund a proposed sports complex — was passed, another bill — House Bill 1630 — was passed with $18.5 million slated for Vicksburg.
“The bill started off as the Gaming Counties Bond Sinking Fund trying to divert $7 million toward tourism on the gaming side and during negotiations we ended up setting aside $18 million for Vicksburg to finish South Frontage Road bridge,” state Rep. Alex Monsour said. “Then we got $500,000 for the Catfish Row Museum downtown.
“We put $20 million into state aid for roads and $162 million in bridge funds for state maintenance.”
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“The gaming industry needs to get credit from where this is coming from, that is where the revenue source is coming from,” he said.
Monsour said the original intent of the bill was to get $7 million a year coming into casino counties to go toward tourism projects to get people coming into those counties.
State Sen. Briggs Hopson III was happy to be able to finish the Frontage Road extension.
“It’s tremendous for Vicksburg,” state Sen. Briggs Hopson III said. “It’s got the money in the bond bill for something I’ve been working on for a couple of years. It will put the final amount of money we need to complete the Frontage Road extension. That’s been in legislation for almost twenty years and it’s never been completed.”
Hopson said the money for Catfish Row would match other private investments dollar for dollar up to $500,000 to make that museum become a reality.
“I hope that I’ve been a good senator and representative for the people of my district,” Hopson said.
The Frontage Road extension is a dream finally realized for the Outlets at Vicksburg.
“It’s a banner day for Vicksburg,” said Margaret Gilmer, general manager of the Outlets at Vicksburg. “To have that access road to connect from Clay Street to Halls Ferry Road is long overdue.
“Economically we estimate we would see roughly a 20 to 25 percent increase in traffic. It’s been difficult at times for our customers to find us. I’ve had people call and say ‘I ca see you but I can’t get to you.’ They get off the interstate at Indiana and then the frontage road ends.” she said.
“I truly commend our representatives for keeping an eye out for our community,” Gilmer said.
“It opens up an opportunity for more economic development along South Frontage Road from Indiana Avenue to Clay Street.”
“We deserve better, we’re the front door of Mississippi from the west,” Gilmer said.
The Frontage Road extension with the increased traffic flow will open up the possibility for expansion of the outlets. Gilmer said there are plans for additional phases of construction, which would add another 100,000 square feet of retail space.
Linda Fondren was ecstatic to be able to work toward completing the Catfish Row Museum.
“I am elated, I could not be happier about getting
this funding,” Fondren said. “I am so thankful that we’re able to move this museum forward. This is great fro the city of Vicksburg.
Fondren said the plans for the Monte Carlo building include a restaurant on the ground floor and a museum upstairs with a separate entrance.
“I’m hopeful that this will have a great economic impact for tourism for our city,” state Rep Oscar Denton said. “It will greatly improve traffic along the frontage roads.”
Vicksburg Mayor George Flaggs Jr. was proud of our local legislators efforts to pass this bill.
“This has been the most productive legislative session in probably the past 20 years in terms of dollars for the City of Vicksburg,” Flaggs said. “It speaks volumes about the leadership we have in Jackson and the Warren County delegation. Hopson, Monsour, Denton and Dixon deserve all the credit.”