Supervisors Smith opposes proposed new route for Miss. 43

Published 1:35 pm Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Supervisor Sandy Kane Smith said here on Monday that he opposes one of four newly proposed routes for a four-lane by-pass project for Mississippi Highway 43 that ties in with Exit 6 on Interstate 59 near the Winn-Dixie Shopping Center, a route, he says, the Mississippi Dept. of Transportation favors.

Smith, during a break in the supervisors’ meeting, said that he was prepared on Monday to brief fellow supervisors on the proposal, and his and some of his constituents opposition to the Exit 6 by-pass plan.

Smith said the proposed Exit 6 route would not only disturb an historically important neighborhood along East Sycamore Road but would dump heavy through-traffic into north Picayune at Exit 6.

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Four other proposed routes show the Miss. Hwy. 43 project moving traffic on a four-way by-pass to near the Exit 10 interchange at Carriere or at other points between Exits 6 and 10 on I-59.

One proposal brings the new four-lane Miss. Hwy. 43 into Exit 4 near Wal-Mart, where it currently ties into I-59.

Smith said he did not know how much time opponents of the Exit 6 proposal have to get their views into MDOT officials; however, he said he is exploring what the time frame is and asked that those who oppose the Exit 6 route contact him.

He said some of his constituents who live along the proposed new route have already contacted him concerning their opposition. He said some Realtors favor the proposed Exit 6 route.

MDOT on April 12 and 13 held a public hearing in Picayune at the Holiday Inn and quite a few people attended the hearing. However, as word got out on the proposed routes, opposition has begun to form, said Smith. He lives along the proposed Exit 6 route. MDOT officials said it could take up to 2 years to decide on a route and acquire right of ways.

MDOT is proposing to four-lane Miss. Hwy. 43 from Hwy. 603 and I-10 near the Kiln up to Picayune, and then constructing a 43 by-pass around Picayune. However, the two Exit 4 and Exit 6 proposals dump the four-lane traffic directly into Picayune.

Smith pointed to additional congestion in North Picayune and the destruction of an historically significant residential area and neighborhoods along East Sycamore in announcing his opposition.

The Exit 6 route would follow East Sycamore out to where it curves north at the intersection of Stegall Road and then veer southeast to Mitchell Road and 43 near where old Salem meat packing company used to be located. The four-lane 43 would then track southeast toward Kiln.

The price for the new four-lane project for Miss. Hwy. 43 is expected to exceed $35 million and is a top priority since the route would  facilitate evacuation of residents along the Gulf Coast in case of another Katrina.

In other matters, after Russell Foster told supervisors that a log jam south of the Burnt Bridge has blocked navigation of Hobolochitto Creek for fishermen and recreational users, Smith said he had talked to Congressman Gene Taylor about getting help to clear Boley of obstructions so it would flow better.

He said Taylor told him there might be some help available through a Coast Guard program. Supervisor Anthony Hales suggested that supervisors draw up a “game plan” on tackling the drainage problems along Boley before contacting officials about possible funding.

Recently Smith and Supervisor Patrick Lee were able to get some funding to help clean out along Alligator Creek that improved drainage to the southwest of Picayune and in the Picayune area.

Also, county road foreman Mike Mitchell told supervisors that he had talked to Southern District Transportation Commissioner Wayne Brown at a recent meeting and Brown told officials that he was looking for additional funds to help fight the cogangrass infestation along state-aid highways.

Mitchell said Brown wanted to spray not only state-aid and federal highways but a half mile along local county connector roads to state-aid roads.

The MDOT is taking a larger interest in the cogangrass eradication program, Mitchell told supervisors.

Also, Mitchell said work was underway on drainage problems near Megehee’s Creek (West Boley) Bridge on Liberty Road and that “work was going smoothly and is on schedule.” County officials have closed Liberty Road for about 5 to 6 weeks in order to conduct drainage and repair work at the bridge.

Supervisors also plan to clear brush from a park that used to be operated at the site in preparation for reopening the park at the bridge site.

The board recessed to Monday May 10.