Hall says area roads could see improvements
By By Fredie Carmichael/The Meridian Star
Dec. 10, 2001
State Transportation Commissioner Dick Hall said heavily traveled roads in East Central Mississippi could see major changes over the next few years.
Hall said that Interstate 20/59 could be re-surfaced through Meridian and that Highway 19 could be widened from two to four lanes from Collinsville to Philadelphia.
Both are part of Vision 21, a highway construction program commissioners will ask the state Legislature to approve next year. The project would cost more than $200 million over 15 to 25 years.
Hall met last week with The Meridian Star s editorial board. There, he discussed Vision 21 and other highway issues facing the commission and the Mississippi Department of Transportation.
The commissioner said MDOT is funding several projects in East Mississippi. One, he said, is $892,000 in renovations to the Mississippi Welcome Center on Interstate 20/59 just west of the Alabama state line.
Hall also said that MDOT likely will try to ease traffic problems along North and South Frontage roads between the Highway 39 and 22nd Avenue exits on I-20/59.
Portions of the roads have both two-way and one-way traffic. Hall said that MDOT may turn both into one-way streets similar to frontage roads alone Interstate 55 in Jackson.
Last week, Hall said, Congress voted to spend $1 million for preliminary work on an I-20/59 exit between the Highway 39 and U.S. 45 interchanges. The exit would provide access to the county's industrial park.
At the same time, he said, Congress also voted to spend $7.4 million to renovate Highway 16 in front of the Silver Star Hotel &Casino in Neshoba County. The highway carries about 1,600 cars a day, he said.
Most of Hall's comments, however, were about Vision 21.
The plan would incorporate elements from a 1987 program to build highways across the state and a separate program to build roads in counties with casinos.
In Meridian, Vision 21 would call for re-surfacing the interstate. Hall said the interstate doesn't have enough traffic through Meridian to justify widening it from four to six lanes.
Hall said that Vision 21 is a good example of how the Mississippi Transportation Commission and the Mississippi Legislature are supposed to operate.
Fredie Carmichael is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call him at 693-1551, ext. 3228, or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.