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franklin county times

Philadelphia bypass a priority

By By William F. West / community editor
July 31, 2002
Mississippi Central District Transportation Commissioner Dick Hall took to the stump at the Neshoba County Fair today to announce future highway improvements in the area.
Hall, driving from Jackson on Tuesday, told The Meridian Star that he planned to announce a bid date for four-laning Highway 16 in the Philadelphia area.
Part of Highway 16 is four-laned just to the west of the Choctaw Indian nation's Silver Star hotel and casino and its soon-to-be completed Golden Moon hotel and casino.
However, the highway is a congested two-lane thoroughfare at the Silver Star and Golden Moon and the increasing development of other businesses and hotels.
Hall has made clear that Highway 16 will be improved and widened east to the junction of Highway 15 near downtown Philadelphia.
Hall also said he planned to announce that he and his fellow transportation commissioners reached an agreement on how to fund a proposed bypass for the Philadelphia area.
Hall said the proposed bypass was originally declared "a gaming project" to be paid for with 100 percent funding from state gaming revenues.
One problem is that the Philadelphia area would have to compete with the Gulf Coast region and the Tunica area for such funding.
In addition, Hall said, his two fellow transportation commissioners, along with state legislators, kept pointing out that the Choctaw casino dollars do not "put money in that pot" because the nation does not pay Mississippi taxes.
Instead, Hall said, the transportation commissioners voted to take the Philadelphia bypass project off the list of state gaming-funded highway projects "and put it over in a pot where we can get 80 percent federal funding on it.
Hall said the transportation department will update its environmental impact study on the proposed bypass to determine the consequences of the highway to the land, trees and water.
Hall said that after a decision is made on the matter "we're going to build it right there.

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