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South Frontage Road extension moves ahead

Mississippi Transportation Commissioners are expected to award a bid for the South Frontage Road extension in August, according to information from Mississippi Department of Transportation officials.

The project is designed to link restaurants, hotels and businesses on East Clay Street and U.S. 80 to the west side of South Frontage Road using an overpass crossing the Kansas City Southern railroad tracks.

“Thank God,” Port Director and Vicksburg-Warren County Partnership member Margaret Gilmer said. “It absolutely needs to happen. The frontage road has got to happen for Vicksburg to enjoy any kind of resurgence in retail development.”

Getting the extension, she said, “has always been important, but now it’s critical. The frontage road was never about just the outlet mall. It was connecting East Clay Street to Halls Ferry to get that traffic off I-20 and over to Home Depot and the other (Vicksburg) mall. It needed to go in years ago.”

The South Frontage Road extension has been discussed for more than 20 years.

In 2007, a Federal Highway Administration study on the project issued a “finding of no significant impact,” clearing the way for the project. Four years later, the Mississippi Department of Transportation bought five properties along the road to secure rights of way for the project, and in April, the Legislature approved $4 million in its fiscal 2015 highway budget to begin planning the South Frontage Road expansion.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen in April 2018 awarded a $1.576 million bid to relocate the utility lines along South Frontage Road to Hemphill Construction of Florence. The project was completed in June.

“It’s been a long time coming and we’re thankful that we’re about to begin construction,” Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said.

He said the extension will significantly improve development in the East Clay Street area.

“It is exciting to see that the long awaited South Frontage Road extension is finally being bid for construction,” said Pablo Diaz, Partnership executive director. “Many Vicksburgers have fought for many years to see this project to completion and they will soon be able to see the fruits of their work.

“Retail is changing at a fast pace and such an upgrade in infrastructure will make that area of town more attractive and adaptive to the new trends in retail development and growth.”

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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