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South Frontage expansion should start in late November

Work is expected to begin on the South Frontage expansion in late November.

A spokesman for Central District Commissioner Dick Hall said T.L. Wallace Construction of Columbia is expected to receive the notice to proceed on the project Nov. 12.

T.L. Wallace submitted the low bid of $17.33 million for the project. The bid was more than $450,000 under the project’s estimate of $17.80 million. The Mississippi Transportation Commission awarded the contract to the company at its first meeting in September.

The South Frontage Road expansion 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.

“It’s been a long time coming, but I’m absolutely convinced that at the end of construction on South Frontage Road we’re going to be able to revitalize the (Vicksburg) outlet mall,’ Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said. “The access is going to mean that much more to the traveling public.

“If we had this road constructed years ago, I don’t believe we’d have been in this situation today. There’s some additional land back there that will be open to a new market,” he said.

“We are finally going to see this project completed and that is great news for our community’s efforts to revitalize one of its most important retail corridors,” said Pablo Diaz, executive director of the Vicksburg-Warren Economic Development Foundation.

“As a community, we have to focus on staying ready to take advantage of opportunities.”

He said the frontage road extension will make the outlet area more attractive for investors and developers, “And we believe the timing of its construction will help in positioning that area for growth as the retail sector continues to change and adapt to consumer preferences.”

Margaret Gilmer, president of the Warren County Port Commission and former manager of the Outlets at Vicksburg, called the announcement “a long time coming but so welcome at a time when we have so many good things going on in Warren County.

“It’s just another testament to the fact that we’re positioning to attract new businesses. I think with the frontage road going in, it’s going to open up that interstate location,” she said.

Gilmer said there are about 2,200 feet along South Frontage Road fronting Interstate 20 “that will be able to be offered to more national tenants. It’s a great day, even though it took a long time coming.”

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.

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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