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LLocal groups have expressed the need for investment in our highways; ball now in the lap of our leaders

The completion and opening of the Wisconsin Avenue connector road is not a simple thing to be dismissed.

By it size, the road is not that big. It is just a few hundred feet in length, but the impact that it has on Vicksburg is pretty substantial.

In addition to creating a viable second access road and exit for employees at the U.S. Corps of Engineers’ Engineering and Research Development Center, it also opens up easy access to North Frontage Road and interstate on and off ramps for those living on and around Wisconsin Avenue.

Its very location allows for some ease of traffic from the already sometimes-overwhelmed exits on Halls Ferry Road and Indiana Avenue.

The completion of the road also — hopefully — signals an understanding by local, state and federal officials that continued investment in the interstate and highway system in and around Vicksburg is needed.

Before the start of the session of the Mississippi Legislature and ahead of the Trump Administration taking charge, the Vicksburg-Warren County Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Development Foundation created a plan titled “City of Vicksburg & Warren County Project Requests 2017.”

In it, the groups who worked alongside the Vicksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Friends of Vicksburg National Military Park, city of Vicksburg officials and the Warren County Board of Supervisors, spelled out a number of projects and areas in our community they felt needed support from state and federal officials

One such area of focus was “I-20/US 80 Interchange Improvements, Safety, and Circulation Improvements.”

Specifically, the group was pointing out the ongoing funding needs to complete South Frontage Road, where it currently ends, continuing it over the nearby railroad tracks and connect it to the area near the Outlets of Vicksburg.

Money for this project has been provided and work is just around the corner.

Another such requested area was the needed expansion to six-lane I-20 through Vicksburg and redesign the exit and entrance ramps onto I-20 that “are not adequate for vehicles to accelerate to a speed to safely merge with traffic on I-20.”

With the recent changes to our economic development leadership, the discussions of expanding operations at the Port of Vicksburg — even going as far to openly discuss the need for port facilities south of the I-20 bridge — we cannot forget that I-20 and our highways must be up to par. Currently, they are not.

We appreciate the completion of the Wisconsin Avenue connector and applaud the efforts of our local groups for their vision, but now it is again up to our elected leaders.

What we have done is great. What needs to be done could mean even more.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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