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franklin county times

Study to focus on new I-20/59 interchange site

By By Fredie Carmichael / staff writer
April 21, 2004
A new environmental study is expected to look in-depth at a site near Sweet Gum Bottom Road as a possible location for an interchange to serve the Interstate 20/59 industrial park.
Meridian city councilmen voted unanimously Tuesday for Engineering Associates in Jackson to proceed with the study, which could be completed within the next three months.
Engineers originally chose a site at Hawkins Crossing near the Bonita Lakes area, a few miles west of the park. But residents suggested the Sweet Gum Bottom site at a November public meeting because it is closer to the park.
Jackson added that the city will ultimately choose the site based on the Federal Highway Administration and Mississippi Department of Transportation's recommendation.
The cost of the new study will be funded by a federal grant. MDOT and FHA officials, who are overseeing the city project, required Engineering Associates to perform the new environmental study earlier this year.
The study will cause another round of delays tied to construction at the new park.
Earlier this year, Engineering Associates made a error in bid documents to build water and sewer lines at the park leading to a two-month delay in the council hiring a construction company for that project.
Local economic development officials have said that both the water and sewer and a new I-20/59 interchange are needed at the park to help attract business and industry.
While some councilmen aren't happy with the delay, they say it's part of the process.
They also say the additional environmental study was ordered to study the Sweet Gum Bottom site and not because of any problems with the Hawkins Crossing site.

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