• MDOT moves forward with major infrastructure improvement projects in District Two

    The Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) has announced updates to several major infrastructure improvement projects in North Mississippi. The projects are spread throughout DeSoto, Coahoma, Marshall, Panola, Quitman and Tate Counties in the northwestern portion of the state, and will greatly improve safety and mobility in the region.

    U.S. Highway 51 Coldwater River Bridge Replacement in Tate County

    The replacement of the U.S. 51 Bridge over the Coldwater River was let to contract at the beginning of June 2016. The project will replace the existing 1,100 foot bridge with a new 2,000 foot bridge and raise the roadway by four feet to prevent future flooding. Crews have begun clearing the right-of-way along U.S. 51.

    “After the flooding event, our bridge inspection crews assessed the damage to the Coldwater River Bridge,” said MDOT District Two Engineer Mitch Turner. “Because of the damage sustained, MDOT made the decision to close the bridge and move the replacement project forward in order to keep the traveling public safe.”

    This bridge was originally scheduled for replacement in November 2016, however damage sustained to the bridge during a March flood event caused MDOT to close the bridge and move the project timeline forward. MDOT closed the Coldwater River Bridge on March 11, and it will remain closed until the replacement project is complete.

    A signed detour route is in place directing motorists to use Interstate 55 between Hernando and Coldwater. MDOT anticipates the project will be completed in spring 2018.

    “We realize that the detour route around this project is inconvenient to many motorists,” Tagert said. “However, the safety of the traveling public must be our top priority.”

    Another item tied to this contract is the rehabilitation of the Coldwater River Bridges along Interstate 55. This work will include removing patches in the bridge deck and placing a high friction surface treatment, which will give the bridge deck a new riding surface. MDOT expects this portion of work to be completed in early fall.

    Other major projects in MDOT’s District Two include:

    • Interstate 269 in DeSoto and Marshall Counties

    Construction of the Interstate 269 project continues and is on schedule in North Mississippi. The Interstate 269 project is the largest active MDOT construction project in the state. Dirt and bridge work for the entire Interstate 269 corridor has been completed. The next phase of the project involves two separate paving projects, the largest of which has been let to contract, and work has already begun. The second paving project is scheduled to be let in September. MDOT expects Interstate to be ready for traffic in the fall of 2018.

    The first section of Interstate 269, from Mississippi 302 to the Tennessee state line in Marshall County, was opened to traffic on October 23, 2015.

    • State Route 6/ U.S. Highway 278 Bridge Replacement in Coahoma, Quitman and Panola Counties

    MDOT has begun a project to replace and repair bridges along State Route 6/ U.S. Highway 278 between Clarksdale and Batesville in Coahoma, Quitman and Panola Counties. The project includes 11 bridges that will be replaced and two that will be repaired. The 13 bridges included in this project are on MDOT’s structurally deficient bridge list.

    Detour bridges and roads are currently being constructed. To date, crews have completed repairs on one of the bridges over the Tallahatchie River in Panola County. MDOT anticipates that the project will be completed in its entirety by mid-fall 2017.

    Funding for this project came from funds made available from the passage of the “Gaming Bill” during the 2015 Regular Legislative Session. This bill authorizes the use of state revenue bonds to provide $200 million in funds for the repair, rehabilitation, replacement, construction and reconstruction of bridges that are on MDOT’s structurally deficient bridge list, and other transportation-related projects.

    • Highway 328 Bridge Replacement Project in Lafayette County

    MDOT crews have completed the bridge replacement project on State Route 328 in Lafayette County. The existing bridge was removed and replaced with a new drainage structure. Crews will be removing the detour sites and completing the final dressing and grassing slopes in the construction area. Motorists are urged to continue to use caution while workers are present in the work zone.

  • Multimodal Grants Awarded for Northern Transportation District

    Commissioner Mike Tagert has announced grant awards for multimodal projects in Mississippi’s Northern Transportation District.

    “The projects these grants are funding will support existing jobs and create new opportunities for the citizens of North Mississippi, while also boosting the local economies,” said Tagert.

    The Mississippi Transportation Commission (MTC) recently approved the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) to award grants to regional and municipal airports, ports, public transit systems and railroads throughout north Mississippi.

    “MDOT’s responsibilities include maintaining and improving the state’s highways and interstates, but also focuses on providing a safe intermodal transportation network for airports, ports and waterways, railroads and public transit,” Tagert said. “Each of these modes of transportation plays a vital role in transporting people, goods and services that promote economic growth and development throughout Mississippi.”

    Funding for these multimodal grants comes from the Multimodal Transportation Improvement Fund. Money from this fund is allocated specifically to support multimodal grants each year. Grant applications, which include project details and funds requested, are reviewed and approved by a multimodal committee specific to each separate mode of transportation.

    Grants were approved for the following regional and municipal airports in North Mississippi.

    • $201,429- Corinth-Alcorn County Airport, Corinth: Enclose an existing hangar, including installation of a ground power unit.
    • $151,650- George M. Bryan Field, Starkville: Construct additional hangar apron space.
    • $272,303- Golden Triangle Regional Airport, Columbus: Construct an emergency medical helicopter response facility.
    • $34,670- Tupelo Regional Airport, Tupelo: Purchase an aircraft tug.

    Grants were approved for the following ports in North Mississippi.

    • $140,000- Lowndes County Port, Columbus: Construct 8,000 square foot warehouse.
    • $90,050- Port of Aberdeen: Construct rail spur.
    • $400,000- Port of Amory: Road improvements to expand Waterway Drive.
    • $490,050- Port Itawamba, Fulton: Dredging and debris removal.

    Grants were approved for the following railroads in North Mississippi:

    • $438,244- Mississippi Delta Railroad, Clarksdale: Upgrade rail from 85 pounds to 115 pounds from mile post 103 to mile post 103.5.
    • $391,545- Mississippian Railway, Inc., Fulton: Upgrade rail and switch to 115 pounds near the Amory Rail Yard.
  • Mississippi Transportation Commission Approves Interstate 22 Designation

    The Mississippi Transportation Commission (MTC) has authorized the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) to submit an application for approval to designate U.S. Highway 78 as Interstate 22 in North Mississippi.

    U.S. 78 was congressionally designated as a future interstate corridor and will connect to Interstate 269 in Mississippi once construction is complete. MDOT’s application to change U.S. 78 to I-22 will be sent to the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration for final approval.

    “As expansion and growth continue in North Mississippi, I-22 will play a vital role in promoting safety and economic development throughout the region,” said Transportation Commissioner Mike Tagert. “I-22 will connect local communities in Northeast Mississippi to the future I-269 corridor located in Marshall and Desoto counties.”

    Some concerns were raised about weight limits for harvest permitted loads when considering changing the designation of U.S. 78 to I-22. Those concerns were addressed this past December when President Obama signed the 2015 Fiscal Year Omnibus Appropriation Bill into law. Tagert worked with late U.S. Rep. Alan Nunnelee (R-MS) to include language in the bill ensuring weight limits will not be lowered once the route designation is changed.

    “Agriculture is the number one industry in Mississippi, and without this bill, transport of these goods along I-22 would be severely crippled,” said Tagert. “This bill prevents weight limit changes that usually accompany a new interstate designation.”

    The process to designate an interstate is typically a lengthy one, but changes were introduced in the “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act” (MAP-21) allowing states to request an interstate designation once the route meets federal standards and there are plans for the route to connect to the existing interstate system within 25 years. U.S. 78 meets these requirements. It was built to federal standards and connects to the existing interstate system in Tennessee.

  • MDOT Approves Faulkner Scenic Byway on Hwy. 30

    The Mississippi Department of Transportation has approved a portion of Mississippi Highway 30 to be named the William Faulkner Scenic Byway.

    The William Faulkner Scenic Byway label will apply to a stretch of Highway 30 from its intersection with County Road 14 in Union County and County Road 229 in Lafayette County.

    “This is a great way to pay tribute to an iconic Mississippian,” said Transportation Commissioner Mike Tagert. “The Faulkner Scenic Byway will showcase the beauty of this part of our state which inspired so many of Faulkner’s stories.”

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  • Liking the Loop: Newly opened link to Barnes Crossing busy on first day

    TUPELO – The ceremonial opening of West Barnes Crossing Road on Thursday morning became a celebration of its economic potential, convenience and cooperation in building it by five speakers who wrapped up the $30 million, multiyear project in less than 25 minutes.

    And the traffic began flowing immediately after that.

    The five-lane road – built as part of Tupelo’s Major Thoroughfare Program, with essential financial participation by the Mississippi Department of Transportation and federal sources – runs about five miles from the McCullough Boulevard/Coley Road intersection to U.S. Highway 45 east of the Barnes Crossing commercial district.

    Major Thoroughfare Committee chairman Greg Pirkle presided at the ribbon-cutting, and he praised the new road, known as the Northern Loop, as one of the best opportunities for “economic growth” and an “improved quality of life.”

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  • MDOT: Work on I-269 is on schedule, several phases at halfway point

    NORTHWEST MISSISSIPPI — The Mississippi Department says construction continues on schedule for the I-269 project in North Mississippi.

    All phases of the project are under construction with several more than halfway complete. Contractors continue earthwork and bridge construction, while paving operations on one section of the project, from SR 302 to the Tennessee state line in Marshall County, began earlier this summer.

    I-269 in Mississippi is composed of seven individual projects that total approximately 25 miles of four-lane highway in DeSoto and Marshall counties. Construction on this over $640 million interstate project began in 2011. This project is made available by the sale of H.E.L.P. bonds.

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  • Construction Continues Along I-269 in North Miss.

    Tuesday, July 29, 2014

    Construction continues on schedule for the I-269 project in North Mississippi, according to the Mississippi Department of Transportation.

    All phases of the project are under construction with several more than halfway complete.

    I-269 in Mississippi is composed of seven individual projects that total approximately 25 miles of four-lane highway in Desoto and Marshall Counties. Construction on this over $640 million interstate project began in 2011 and is scheduled for completion in the fall of 2015.

    “As expansion and growth continue, I-269 will be vital in promoting economic growth and development,” said Transportation Commissioner Mike Tagert. “It will also provide a valuable means for commercial vehicles to move raw materials and manufactured goods through the region.”

    Once completed, I-269 will form a 30-mile loop around Memphis through Mississippi and Tennessee. In Mississippi, I-269 will begin at the I-55/I-69 intersection north of Hernando, cross Highway 78 near Byhalia and continue northeast to the Tennessee state line. The bypass will relieve traffic pressure on the I-55/I-69 corridor and connect I-40 and I-55 in North Mississippi. I-40 is a major cross-country freight route, and I-69 will be an international connector between Canada and Mexico.

    “This is more than just a bypass around Memphis,” said Tagert. “The construction of I-269 will transform the region by connecting local communities in several states and will have far-reaching international implications.”

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  • Old Taylor Road now open to traffic

    BATESVILLE, MISS.—The Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) announces that Old Taylor Road in Oxford is open to traffic. While there is still minor work to be completed on the project, all major construction has been completed and the new four-lane road is ready for public use.

    The new traffic configuration on Old Taylor Road will better accommodate increased traffic as the University of Mississippi begins fall classes. The roundabouts will relieve congestion on the Old Taylor Road bridge during peak hours, provide better access for motorists entering or exiting State Route 6 and give pedestrians and cyclists a safer route across the bridge.

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  • MDOT Law Enforcement officers show off tools to keep trucks, highways safe

    TUPELO – Law enforcement from the Mississippi Department of Transportation showed the tools they use to help maintain Mississippi’s highways and keep drivers safe during a demonstration at the BancorpSouth Arena on Thursday.

    Drivers often confuse MDOT Law Enforcement officers and patrol cars with Mississippi Highway Patrol troopers, but the No. 1 concern for MDOT officers is commercial vehicle safety.

    “We want people to know exactly what that MDOT Law Enforcement officer they see is doing and why because we certainly think if the public is aware of what we’re doing and why then the public will be much more supportive,” said Mike Tagert, Northern District Transportation commissioner. “Our road and bridge system represents the largest public asset that we have in our state. It’s important not only for public safety, but also general movement of commerce so the rules and regulations these men and women enforce lead to safety and savings for all of us.”

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  • Turning a Waterway into an Economic Lifeline

    Connecting the Port of Mobile to the Mississippi, Tennessee and Ohio rivers, the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway is more than a modern engineering wonder. It is a lifeline of economic opportunity for the South, as companies that make their living off the region’s natural resources invest at a record pace along this man-made marvel.

    Completed in 1984, just one month after President Ronald Reagan’s re-election, the US$2-billion waterway project included 10 locks and dams, a 175-foot-deep (53.1-meter-deep) canal connecting the Tennessee River with the Tombigbee River watershed, and 234 miles (377 km.) of navigation channels.

    Today, the waterway is considered one of the most energy-efficient trade routes in North America. It connects 18 states and 14 river systems totaling some 4,500 miles (7,242 km.) of navigable waterways serving a large swath of southern and middle America.

    The payback for this massive public works project that was 12 years in the making is now coming in droves, says Mike Tagert, administrator for the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway Development Authority in Columbus, Miss.

    “The past five years have seen probably as much direct total investment along the Tenn-Tom as in all the years previously,” says Tagert, noting that steel industry investment along the Tenn-Tom has totaled more than $5 billion since 2003. “Severstal Columbus alone has invested a total of $1.3 billion in its steel plant, bringing 450 jobs, the majority paying over $70,000 per year. That’s a tremendous impact in a region like this.”

    The Columbus mini-mill opened in 2007 on 1,400 acres (567 hectares). The company’s phase-two expansion, now underway, will upgrade the Mississippi plant from 1.7 million tons (1.6 million metric tons) to 3.4 million tons (3.1 million metric tons) per year. Severstal can ship products directly from the plant by rail, road or barge.

    Multi-modal access to multiple trade and supply routes is the primary selling point of the waterway to industrial end-users, says Tagert. “It is a critical link. Without the Tenn-Tom, you would not have the link between the Gulf of Mexico ports and the inland waterways of the Ohio, Mississippi and Tennessee rivers,” he says. “We are directly linked to the Port of Mobile. As the Port of Mobile goes, so goes the Tenn-Tom Waterway.”

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