MDOT: Four-lane work on U.S. 61 months away

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 31, 2000

A $22 million project to four-lane portions of U.S. 61 North just outside Adams County is still months away from construction, according to the Mississippi Department of Transportation.

MDOT officials recently awarded the project to add two parallel lanes to the highway in Franklin County to low-bidder W.E. Blain and Sons Inc., of Mount Olive.

But, preliminary &uot;clearing and grubbing&uot; is not scheduled to begin until early spring — tentatively March 1 , 2001 — said Cassandra Luckett, MDOT contract administration.

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Work will extend 9.4 miles from the Adams County line to just south of Fayette and includes the reconstruction of existing highway.

Grading, drainage and bridge and paving are also included in the bid package.

Natchez City Engineer David Gardner, a former MDOT engineer, said it is common for state highway projects to use county lines as starting and ending points.

David Brown, MDOT Natchez office, said all state highway projects in the area, including work on U.S. 84 in Adams and Franklin counties, is pending funding at this time.

Funding shortfalls realized in late spring and early summer have delayed work on U.S. 84, Brown said.

Amy Hornback, MDOT public communications, said work on U.S. 84 has not been halted because of lack of funding, but that the projects were designed to be completed in stages.

Three interconnecting projects on U.S. 84 are delayed at this time, including resurfacing from Washington to Leesdale, widening of the eastbound shoulder from Leesdale to Roxie and four-laning from Roxie to Meadville.

Both the U.S 84 and U.S. 61 North projects are part of the 1987 Four-Lane Highway Program, a commitment to construct and improve more than 1,700 miles of highway throughout the state.