Ledge Removal Continues in Vermont Before More Rocks Tumble on Highway

Design of Next Stretch of I-69 in Mississippi to Start by Spring

Mon January 15, 2007 - Southeast Edition
CEG



HERNANDO, Miss. (AP) Mississippi highway officials expect the U.S. Department of Transportation to give a green light for design work on the interstate from Hernando-to-Collierville, Tenn.

The design work would begin next spring.

Jimmy Dickerson, district engineer, and Mississippi Transportation Commissioner Bill Minor, who represents the northern district, said it will take several years of design, right of way acquisition and construction before lanes would be ready for the driving public.

The first leg of Interstate 69 opened in October between Tunica County and Interstate 55 in Hernando. The 20-mi. (32 km) project cost $137 million.

Plans call for I-69 to turn north at Hernando, following I-55 and Interstate 240 through Memphis and running west of U.S. 51 until it reaches Tennessee 385 in Millington, Tenn.

I-269, the interstate’s suburban loop around Memphis, will go east from Hernando to U.S. 78 and through Marshall County before hooking up with Tennessee 385, east of Collierville.

A north-south leg of Tennessee 385 on the Shelby-Fayette county line would complete the loop from Hernando to Millington.

Parts of it are under construction by the Tennessee Department of Transportation.

Approval of the final environmental impact statement clears the way for the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) to push forward on I-269, said Dickerson and Minor.

“We’re hoping to have that record of decision [from the federal DOT] by mid-February. That frees us up to actively go forward with the projects as far as design is concerned,” Dickerson said.

DeSoto and Marshall county officials have approved funding I-269 under Mississippi’s Highway Enhancement through Local Participation (HELP) program. Tunica County used HELP to pay for construction of the first I-69 segment.

The program allows local governments to pay for highway projects by issuing bonds that are later repaid by federal funds.

Minor said MDOT will divide the 28.6-mi.-long (46 km) I-269 project into four sections.

MDOT officials have said portions of I-269 could be under construction in approximately three years, but the entire route might not be finished for a decade.