Holly Springs Road

A pickup truck travels along Holly Springs Road Friday morning near a barrier used to close the roadway at times of flooding. Federal grant funds announced Thursday afternoon will help fund a $30 million project DeSoto County is undertaking to raise the roadway level and replace five bridges on the road.

The problems of flooding on a DeSoto County road may be nearing an end in the future with help from the federal government.

The U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded $13 million in funds to support road and bridge improvements to flood-prone Holly Springs Road. Continual flooding with the joining of Camp Creek and the Coldwater River in the area has led to the county putting permanent barriers there to close the road when it floods, which can happen frequently.

Mississippi U.S. Senators Roger Wicker and Cindy Hyde-Smith jointly announced the grant award in a news release Thursday afternoon.

Board of Supervisors President Mark Gardner Friday said it was a “huge” day for DeSoto County to see the much-needed construction project get closer to actually happening.

Gardner reflected that DeSoto County government has been working to raise the roadway and bridge level along Holly Springs Road for years.

“Two years before I got elected I started attending all of the board meetings,” Gardner said. “I know the board has been talking about Holly Springs Road for at least nine years.”

The money comes under the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development, known as BUILD, Discretionary Grant program.

Raising the roadway level by as much as 10 feet and replacing five bridges is what will be done under the $30 million project, Gardner said. Several hairpin curves that have ended up being the sites for repeated accidents would also be realigned.

“The Board of Supervisors applied for this grant several weeks ago,” Gardner said. “We wouldn’t have gotten it had we not applied for it, but we have made numerous trips to D.C. in the seven years that I have been on the board. On every trip we have gone, we’ve asked for help with Holly Springs Road. It all came to fruition with yesterday’s announcement.”

Hyde-Smith, who is on the Senate Appropriations Committee, said competition for BUILD grants is intense.

“The project is intended to improve public safety and increase the attractiveness of these areas for growth,” said Hyde-Smith about the DeSoto County award and a similar award of $25 million to Neshoba County. “We’ll continue to work to find additional resources to support Mississippi’s infrastructure needs.”

The Neshoba County grant is to widen state Highway 19 between Meridian and Philadelphia. The total price tag on that project is $40 million.

“The grants will support two high-priority infrastructure projects for Mississippi,” Wicker said. “I commend the Department of Transportation and Secretary Elaine Chao for recognizing the importance of these projects, which will be essential to ensuring the safety of thousands of Mississippians and continued economic development along these well-traveled corridors.”

Gardner said Holly Springs Road was going to be done eventually, but the federal grant will make the financial burden to DeSoto County that much lighter.

“We were going to fix Holly Springs Road anyway, but it was going to take a lot more local DeSoto County tax dollars to do it. It’s still going to take a lot of local county tax dollars to fix it, but $13 million goes a long way.”

He added a lot of preparatory work has been accomplished already on the project.

“The environmental work has been done and we’re close to being ready to put it out there for contractors to bid on,” Gardner said.

Bob Bakken is Staff Writer for the DeSoto Times-Tribune.

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