Natchez officials discuss I-14 with capitol representatives

Published 11:55 pm Sunday, January 28, 2018

NATCHEZ — Local officials spent this week in Washington D.C. lobbying for a future interstate to come through Natchez.

Both elected and appointed officials flew to the capital Tuesday and returned Friday, meeting with U.S. congressional delegates representing Mississippi during that time.

A group including Natchez Mayor Darryl Grennell, Ward 3 Alderwoman Sarah Smith, Adams County District 1 Supervisor Mike Lazarus and District 2 Supervisor David Carter spoke Wednesday with U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) about the potential highway.

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“Both senators are on board,” Grennell said.

The project is currently in the early stages of seeking congressional designation along the current U.S. 84 corridor stretching to Laurel.

“The I-14 designation of U.S Highway 84 is a sound proposal that could become an important part of the president’s infrastructure plan,” Wicker said. “It is clear this long-term project could have a substantial positive impact on Mississippi’s economy and improve safety and mobility for residents.

“I value the information provided at the meeting and commend the ground work put into the I-14 proposal.  The interstate proposal is early in the process, and I look forward to learning more as this moves forward.”

Lazarus said local officials also received positive feedback Thursday from U.S. Rep. Gregg Harper (R-Miss.) and members of Rep. Steven Palazzo’s (R-Miss.) staff.

The group requested that Harper and Palazzo consider co-sponsoring a bill pertaining to I-14 that will be authored by Rep. Brian Babin, R-Texas.

“We’re taking the lead on this to get our people on board,” Lazarus said.

Smith said the hope is that the language from Babin’s bill would eventually be added to a federal infrastructure bill the White House is expected to roll out some time this year. President Donald Trump has said the bill would inject upwards of $1 trillion into U.S. infrastructure.

Carter said the city and county must continue to press the issue even though the manifestation of I-14 is still many years down the road.

“Sometimes, you’ve got to plant a seed now, and you don’t see it (grow) until the future,” Carter said.