Widening of Hwy. 11, will it happen?

Published 7:00 am Saturday, April 22, 2017

When I first moved to Pearl River County in 1993, there was a large billboard along Highway 11.

It was a simple sign that had a list of years. I can’t recall the exact wording or how many years were listed, but I remember that each year was crossed out and the general meaning of the sign was that the Mississippi Department of Transportation has been unable to keep the promise to widen Highway 11 for decades.

Highway 11 was two-lane when I moved here more than 20 years ago, and today not much has changed.

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But now, we have been assured by an MDOT representative the project will take place next year.

I know he is only passing along a message, and I hope he’s right. There’s a problem though.

My first concern is the budget for every state agency hasn’t been set yet, MDOT included. And with budget cuts already occurring across the state, combined with tax revenue coming in less than expected, the possibility is real that the project will be pushed back, again.

I hope MDOT gets the funding it needs to move forward with the project.

While widening the highway all the way through town would be great, it’s not feasible. So the section MDOT representatives promised to widen will help with traffic issues we have in the north end of town.

But here’s one thing to keep an eye on concerning a separate but related project. The MDOT representative warned the City Council that when the agency gets the funding to replace the aging bridge on Highway 11 across East Hobolochitto, it may not include a pedestrian walkway. Every day a number of people walk or bike across that bridge, inches from traffic. If the bridge will be replaced, the walkway would make it safer for those pedestrians. So, call your local Councilor and urge them to call MDOT and express the importance of keeping the walkway in the project.