In the baseball world of analogies, today was a “pile-up” moment for celebration of a tremendous victory for Southaven, Desoto County, and North Mississippi as Governor Reeves announced his plan for funding allocation from the federal transportation bill for Phase One of the I-55 Widening Project. Thank you, Governor, for recognizing that not only is this interstate capacity problem a serious public safety hazard, but it is handcuffing the economic growth and tremendous future potential of Desoto County and North Mississippi. We must have legislative support of this allocation, but I trust that many state officials also see this tremendous need and feel confident they will do the right thing for North Mississippi.
Phase One will widen I-55 from 4 lanes to 10 from Goodman Rd to Church Rd; add ramp lanes and widen Goodman Rd at the interchange; rework the Church Rd interchange adding a loop in the southeast quadrant; and widen Church Rd both under and on both sides of the interchange. The projected cost of this phase is $118,824,000.
Phase Two will widen I-55 from Church Rd to I-269 from 4 lanes to 10 and add a new interchange at Star Landing Rd. The projected cost of this phase is $298,750,000
Phase Three will widen I-55 from I-269 to the Hernando interchange from 4 lanes to 6; rework the interchange; and widen Commerce St under and on both sides of the interchange. The projected cost of this phase is $89,600,000.
All phases of this project are important with Phase One being the critical first step as it is the epicenter of the traffic congestion. Traffic counts from just Goodman to Church reach approximately 70,000 vehicles daily and impact commercial logistics for the entire southeast region of the U.S. because of the nearby junctions of I-55 with I-40 and I-269. Design and right-of-way acquisition has already been completed by MDOT for this phase which makes it shovel ready. This phase will obviously take several years to complete once construction begins. These timelines are still pending.
Today’s announcement is a special day for me professionally as I have advocated the importance of this project for ten years in countless meetings with MDOT and other state officials as well as several trips to Washington, D.C. in attempts to help MDOT secure funding. It’s not about me, however, but a tremendous effort from many local officials, some state legislators, MDOT, key lobbyist teams, and of course, Governor Reeves. Thanks to all! In the words of President Harry S. Truman: “It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.”