Harrison County to Borrow $300M for Four-Lane Highway

Thu February 03, 2005 - Southeast Edition

GULFPORT, MS (AP) Harrison County supervisors will borrow up to $300 million to provide for construction of a new four-lane highway in Gulfport.

Under an agreement announced Jan. 24, the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) will repay county revenue bonds with an 80 percent match from the federal government and 20 percent from the state.

The road will run from the state port in Gulfport northwest to Interstate 10. The road would parallel U.S. 49 in downtown Gulfport, where it would be elevated, and then curve sharply to the west and parallel Canal Road to the interstate.

Officials often have discussed additional north-south connectors in east and west Harrison County, but funding has not been available.

MDOT can take advantage of federal funding by building the road to interstate standards, cutting construction time from 16 to six years, said Wayne Brown, highway commissioner of the Southern District.

Money for construction will be borrowed in installments. The first installment of up to $70 million will be used for design work and to acquire rights of way.

Supervisor Larry Benefield, who worked with MDOT on the plan, said, “This is truly, truly great for this county.”