Will we ever see Highway 11 widened?

Published 7:00 am Friday, May 18, 2018

It’s been promised for years; the widening of Highway 11.

And yet again, the Mississippi Department of Transportation is saying that the work will take place “next year.”

As the story of the Boy Who Cried Wolf goes, Pearl River County residents may be cautious to believe the state agency.

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However, to get this project underway, the city of Picayune and the Pearl River County Utility Authority have some work to do to relocate all of the water and sewer lines. Even then, other underground utilities will need to be moved as well.

The current timeline from MDOT gives them about a year to get those things done. As such, we may very well be in a stalemate. You see, the city and Utility Authority are comprised of local residents, who have heard the boy cry wolf far too many times.

And to move those utilities will come at a great expense. Even though MDOT has promised to reimburse each entity for a portion of those costs, no one wants to spend money on a project that will only be pushed back another year.

At the same time, if MDOT ever does conduct the widening of the highway, those utilities will need to be moved first. But engineers representing these agencies only want to do that work once. If they move those lines to the wrong location, and have to move them again, the expense in doing so will increase. Another aspect of this proposed project is how this new, wider highway will affect the businesses along the roadside.

A lot of businesses in Picayune are located along Highway 11. And many don’t have space on their property to allow for the widening of a major road and still provide ample parking. This fact could cause a number of those businesses to rethink their current parking situations, and in some rare instances, force them to relocate. If this project does go forward in the next year, expect to see more changes than just a wider highway.