Supervisors eye movement on Anchor Lake connector road, interchange

Published 2:45 pm Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Supervisor Sandy Kane Smith on Monday said that he had met with Southern District Highway Commissioner Wayne H. Brown, and Brown said that he would work with the county in acquiring an Interstate 59 interchange at Anchor Lake Road.
“However, we are talking about a long time, like 10 years,” said Smith during the board of supervisors’ meeting. Smith said that the county “could begin pushing for it right now, and the sooner we start the sooner we would get it.”
He also said the project would be incorporated with a project now underway to construct a connector road between Anchor Lake Road and West Union Road on the east side of I-59.
Smith said the Interstate I-59-Anchor Lake interchange would be a long-range project incorporated into the proposed connector road, which is already in a planning stage. Already set aside for the connector project is $2.5 million in federal funding.
Smith said public hearings will be held on the proposed routes for the connector after preliminary plans are drawn up for it.
Brown told Smith in a follow-up letter after their meeting, “I personally consider this a needed interchange and commend you in your efforts to complete and fund this project.”
Not only will it take 10 years to acquire the funding and complete the project, the costs of an interchange are huge, an estimated $23.5 million. Most of that would have to come from federal funding, too.
Supervisors have been pushing the connector road, and the interchange, because it would grant better and faster access to the east central part of Pearl River County.
In addition, the Pearl River County school system owns 16th section land nearby and has proposed building a school there to serve the eastern portion of its district.
Brown told Smith that after preliminary engineering work, such as an engineering survey and environmental studies, actual construction could take place.
That construction on the interchange would take three years and cost $20 million. The other $3 million would go for preliminary engineering work and environmental studies before dirt could be turned for the interchange.
Plans for the proposed route for the connector road are being drawn up by engineers. County engineer Les Dungan said the connector road will provide relief of traffic congestion in local residential areas and on U.S. Highway 11, access to nearby 16th section land when an additional school campus is needed and a connection between Anchor Lake Road and West Union Road on the east side of I-59.
Dungan said that supervisors believe that the “ultimate need” is interstate access at Anchor Lake and that supervisors are “actively pursuing that.”
The south end of the connector, when built, will access West Union Road just east of Exit 10, so the south end of the connector will have interstate access.
Said Dungan, “Due to the cost and time frame involved in the interchange, that is 10 years, the supervisors are confident that the connector road will help to provide a more timely response to the growing traffic problem in the area.”
He added, “Currently, the board of supervisors are utilizing federal funds combined with both state and local funds totaling approximately $3 million to move both the interchange and the connector road forward.”
Recently, two residents who live near the proposed connector project appeared before supervisors, requesting more information about the project. However, supervisors told them that they would be fully briefed and informed on any proposed routes connecting Anchor Lake Road with West Union Road and their input sought.
Smith said as soon as several proposed routes are chosen, a public hearing on the proposed project will be held and the dates announced so public input can be obtained.
Smith said he met with Brown after several residents said that what was needed at Anchor Lake Road and I-59 was an interchange. However, supervisors said that project was not pursued vigorously at first because of the expected high costs and the long time frame associated with it.
However, Smith said on Monday that after the meeting with Brown, officials have combined the projects and will do the connector road project as a first step in a multi-step process that will also see an interchange installed at Anchor Lake as soon as possible.

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