MDOT does not favor exit four for Hwy. 43 bypass, source says

Published 1:27 pm Thursday, September 30, 2010

A source close to the Pearl River County board of supervisors said that a Mississippi Department of Transportation official said that the highway department does not favor a proposed route for the new Mississippi Highway 43 bypass that would terminate at Interstate 59 Exit 4 near Wal-Mart.

The source said that the transportation department favors routes north of Exit 4 that would see the bypass route go through the Salem Community, and connecting higher up at I-59’s Exit 6 in North Picayune or Exit 10 at Carriere.

That, the source said, would impact rural neighborhoods east of Picayune in southern Pearl River County that for decades have been established in sections where old, established families have farms and homes they have lived in, and on, for generations.

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Asked about the reports, District Five Supervisor Sandy Kane Smith said that he is preparing to hold a public hearing on the matter to get citizen input into the issue. He said that he believes the board of supervisors should speak out on the issue, too.

District Three Supervisor Hudson Holliday, asked about the issue, said he had no problem with the board discussing it. “That’s what we are there for, to represent the people,” Holliday said, and added, “I am concerned about the location of the end of the road, also, but although I want to know what the people think on that, too, it is of great importance to me that the proposed road is limited-access.

“That means,” said Holliday, “that it will be like an interstate, with exits only allowed every mile. That means there will be little development along it. It will be like a moat or a barrier across the county.

“I have not heard anything on this since we met with the highway department last April,” Holliday added. “All I can say right now is that we need to keep the cost down on the project, as much as we can, and look at the limited-access issue.”

The Item also called District One Supervisor and Board President Anthony Hales and District Four Supervisor Patrick Lee, but they had not returned the Item’s call by press time.

District Two Supervisor Joyce Culpepper said she would be willing to discuss the issue, too. “Yes, I feel sure that is something the board would want to discuss and look into,” she said.

Smith also said citizens concerned about the proposed routes should “go higher up than me, to their state legislators,” and let them know how they feel about the proposed routes.

He said that he wanted his constituents to know that he is “trying to stay on top of it,” and that they could contact him, but they also needed to contact MDOT and state legislators to register their concerns about the issue.

Two Pearl River County legislators, Rep. Mark Formby and Sen. Sidney Albritton, both of Picayune, are on highways and transportation committees in the House and Senate.

Smith said MDOT plans to construct the Kiln and Picayune interchanges to the 43 bypass first and then later rework the section in between into a four-lane, limited-access system.

“The project is in the works and it will begin sooner than we think,” Smith said. “The process is still going on, also, and it is not too late to register your opinion with MDOT and other state officials.”

MDOT wants to make Miss. 43 from Interstate 10 near Kiln a four-lane, limited-access expressway that could be used as an evacuation route when the Mississippi Gulf Coast is threatened again by another hurricane like Katrina, and would tie into the I-59’s contraflow.

A preliminary sketch of the routes released by the transportation department showed proposed routes following Miss. 43 to Exit 4 and then more northerly routes taking off 43 at Herscel Mitchell Road near the Hancock-Pearl River County line east of Picayune and going through Salem Community, and connecting with Sycamore Road at Stegall Road, and then connecting with Exit 6 at the Winn-Dixie shopping center.

Other alternates show the routes extending north of Exit 6 and crossing or connecting with the interstate at either Exits 6 and 10.

The proposalsalso  have generated opposition in the Kiln area, since it bypasses the village. Most of the proposed route tacks away from old 43 and 603 and cuts across northern Hancock County through the buffer zone.

Some opponents of the proposed northern route bypasses are saying that they don’t understand why the transportation department proposes to run the routes through long-established rural neighborhoods when the present 43 route at Exit 4 is commercial and partially four-laned already.

State highway officials in a Picayune hearing on April 12 and 13 said that it could take up to two years to get the project underway since plans have to be drawn up and environmental studies completed.

Right now, the proposed routes for the Miss. 43 Bypass dumps the traffic directly into Picayune at Exits 4 and 6, and other routes bypass Picayune all together to tie in with I-59 at Exit 10 at Carriere.

One proposed route takes out businesses and a church at the intersection of Moeller, Caesar and Ole Salem Road, a three-way intersection at which the county just installed stopsigns and warning flashing lights.

Sources said the transportation department did not like the Exit 4 route because it would have to deal with commercial establishments and property, which can be complicated and take more time. “It is just more congested at Exit 4,” the source said.

The price for the new four-lane project for Miss. Hwy. 43 is expected to exceed $35 million.

Former Picayune city councilman Leavern Guy at a public hearing recently spoke in favor of bringing the bypass to Exit 4, the way it is now.

He said it would help businesses along the route and improve property values along the stretch. However, he is the only local businessman to openly push for that route.

The residents east of Exits 6 and 10 and living in the Salem Community don’t want the more northerly routes. They say it will destroy their rural property and disrupt families who have lived in the area for generations.

Smith said those wanting to let the MDOT know of their concerns regarding the issue should write the department at MDOT Environmental Division, P.O. Box 1850, Jackson, Miss. 39215, or email MDOT at “”. An MDOT spokesman said the “project is ongoing and your continued involvement and suggestions will be most appreciated.”

To contact legislators, write or call:

District 106’s Rep. Herb Frierson of Poplarville: Capitol address is Room: 400-F, P.O. Box 1018, Jackson MS 39215, 601-359-2434; Home: 12 Trailwood Lane, Poplarville MS 39470, (H) 601-795-1675, (W) 601-0795-6285.

District 108’s Rep. Mark Formby of Picayune — Capitol: Room: 400-F, P.O. Box 1018, Jackson MS 39215, 601-359-3339; Home: 911 Hwy. 43 No., Picayune MS 39466, (H) 601-798-8917, (W) 601-798-3800, Email: Formby is a member of the House Transportation committee.

District 40’s Sen. Sidney Albritton — Capitol: P.O. Box 1018, Jackson MS 39215, 601-359-3226, Home: P.O. Box 1389, Picayune MS 39466, 601-590-1845, Email: Albritton is a member of the Highways and Transportation committee.

District 47’s Sen. Ezell Lee — Capitol: Room: 410, P.O. Box 1018, Jackson MS 39215, 601-359-3170, Home: 407 Country Club Drive, Picayune MS 39466, (H) 601-798-5270, Email: