When will we see action on U.S. Highway 11?

Published 7:00 am Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Mississippi Department of Transportation came to Picayune several years ago and extolled on what they were going to do for the city by widening U.S. Highway 11.

Years passed with nothing happening except that some property owners along the highway were told that they were too close to the two-lane highway and would be bought out and have to move. The property was never purchased. The road was never widened.

Then, Crosby Memorial Hospital was bought out following Hurricane Katrina by the board of Forrest General Hospital in Hattiesburg, which promised to build the city a new hospital. The property for the new hospital was donated by the Cooper family to be the centerpiece of a development they planned. That moved the hospital to just off U.S. Hwy. 11 and the city and county approached MDOT about widening the highway. MDOT said yes, for that portion between the Hobolochitto Creek bridge and Hide-A-Way Lake subdivision, but not the length originally planned, which went all the way through town. The hospital was completed in 2012 and construction on widening the highway was originally scheduled for 2012, then put off to 2013, and, at last notification, was put off until 2016.

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So once again we are left here waiting on MDOT to start construction before the start date is pushed back yet again. Perhaps the Mississippi Transportation Commission, a three-member elected body that oversees MDOT, thinks we will forget if they wait long enough. We haven’t and we aren’t.

The city needs this highway widening now rather than later. The transportation commission needs to bring this project forward, not push it further back as it has done so many times before.