Connector breaks ground, nearly finished

Published 5:59 pm Friday, December 23, 2016

What began with a simple vote to seek a low-interest loan in 2014, has nearly turned into a much-anticipated road connecting Wisconsin Avenue and North Frontage Road.

The long-planned road, which will now travel from North Frontage Road, between a Cannon’s new Honda and Toyota dealership, and the existing River Hills Bank and Blackburn Motors property, is nearly complete.

The planning, seeking of funds, permitting and construction has taken far longer than many expected, but paving on the road should begin shortly, with hopes of having it completed in just a few weeks.

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The city has a $1.3 million Mississippi Development Authority capital improvement loan to build the road. In fact, just last week, after the project had battled weather and construction delays, the city had to seek extension on the loan, as it was set to expire Dec. 31.

City officials had announced plans for paving to begin on the road on two separate occasions, once in October and another in December, but as of Friday, paving has not started.

The road, although not that long, is set to have a big impact on, not only businesses along North Frontage Road, but with officials and employees at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Engineering Research and Development Center.

“This is a project that’s a long time coming, but it’s in the best interest and is the best economic development opportunity that we will ever have,” Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said last November, after one of the final agreements had been reached, clearing way for construction to begin. “This is the connector road to the back of ERDC, which has a $15 million facility under construction.

“It allows folks leaving the back of ERDC and living on Wisconsin to come around and utilize the frontage road to get to I-20.”

The road plans anticipate a possible move by ERDC to move the front of its facility from Halls Ferry Road to Wisconsin to reduce traffic on Halls Ferry Road.

ERDC is currently in the middle of building a new headquarters facility about midway on its property.