Bids taken for last of four-laning

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 28, 2000

Sen. Bob M. Dearing believes his position as chairman of the state Senate Highways and Transportation Committee is paying off.

The Mississippi Department of Transportation has announced a bid schedule for four-laning another two sections of U.S. 61 North, a project local residents have been waiting for since the 1987 highway program was implemented.

MDOT began advertising for bids for the 9.6-mile section from the Fayette bypass north to the Jefferson/Claiborne county line last week. Those bids will be opened March 28 and could be awarded as early as April 11.

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Bids for the 8.7-mile section of U.S. 61 from the Adams/Jefferson county line north to the Fayette bypass will be advertised beginning March 24 and opened May 23. The Mississippi Transportation Commission&160;could award the bid as early as June 13.

&uot;I’m terribly excited,&uot; Dearing said. &uot;That last hurdle we had was the utilities being moved. We had excellent cooperation from Mississippi Rural Electric, BellSouth and the McNair Stampley Water Authority.&uot;

Dearing said he thinks his influence as chairman of the Senate transportation committee has helped.

&uot;The Department of Transportation is constantly changing their priorities on these projects,&uot; he said. &uot;It’s not unusual for a chairman of a committee&uot; to have influence.

&uot;It’s a two-way street,&uot; he said. &uot;I’m cooperating (with MDOT)&160;and they’re cooperating with me.&uot;

MDOT&160;spokesman Mike Bowling said that once work begins on those two sections of U.S. 61, only two sections will remain to be four-laned. A section from the state line to 563 is scheduled for fiscal year 2002, and a portion in Port Gibson is not scheduled yet because the department is still working on environmental studies.