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Hall: I-69 vital to entire state

By By William F. West / community editor
July 11, 2002
State Transportation Commissioner Dick Hall said Wednesday that the proposed Interstate 69 through northwest Mississippi is vital to the success of the entire state.
Hall told Kiwanis members about former state Sen. Nevin Sledge of Cleveland, who said that Delta landowners balked in the 1950s about a Memphis-to-Jackson interstate through the flatlands.
Hall said that Sledge, a young man in the 1950s, attended a meeting of the Delta's major landowners about the proposed interstate.
The group then sought help from their ally the late U.S. Sen. James O. "Big Jim" Eastland, who Hall said had the route of the proposed Interstate 55 relocated toward Grenada.
I-69 currently extends from the Canadian border at Port Huron, Mich., to Indianapolis. Plans call for extending the interstate south to the Mexican border.
That route would take I-69 through the Memphis area, northwest Mississippi and into Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas.
I-69 is expected to follow U.S. 61 in Mississippi before turning west and crossing the Mississippi River near Benoit, a town north of Greenville.
Plans also call for replacing the aging, two-lane U.S. 82 Mississippi River bridge southwest of Greenville with a four-lane structure.