MDOT gives notice to proceed on U.S. 61

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 16, 2001

State highway officials have cleared the way for construction on U.S. 61 North to begin more than a month early. Sen. Bob Dearing, D-Natchez, said he received word Tuesday that the Mississippi Department of Transportation had given contractors &uot;notice to proceed&uot; on a $22 million project to four-lane the highway between the Adams County line and Fayette.

Officials awarded the contract to W.E. Blain and Sons Inc., of Mount Olive in October, but work was not scheduled to begin until March 1.

Contractors had asked MDOT to allow construction to begin sooner so workers could be kept on over the winter months, even deferring payment until spring.

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&uot;After reviewing our situation, it was decided it would be advantageous to go ahead and do it at this time,&uot; said Hugh Long, MDOT chief engineer.

The announcement comes just a day after Dearing told members of the Natchez-Adams County Chamber of Commerce the Legislature planned to buckle down on MDOT management practices.

Dearing said Tuesday he is pleased with MDOT’s decision to move ahead with the project. By opening southwest Mississippi to four-lane traffic, industries will be more likely to locate in the area, Dearing said.

Construction on the highway, beginning with cutting and clearing, will start as soon as weather permits, contractor Michael Blain said.