Mitch Turner, Northern District Engineer for the Mississippi Department of Transportation, told members of the Rotary Club of Hernando Wednesday that the good news ahead for DeSoto County is that the long-awaited I-269 project is nearing completion.
"This project was started more than 10 years ago," Turner said. "After right-of-way acquisition, we were finally able to move some dirt and build bridges," adding the total project consists of seven different projects within the corridor, designed to be part of the new "superhighway" between Mexico and Canada.
Turner said the total price tag of I-69/I-269 will top $710 million.
"Through a lot of leadership and help here in DeSoto and Marshall counties, and with a lot of bonding (indebtedness), you were able to push it through," he said. "It was foresight from the people in DeSoto County that made it possible."
Additionally, the newly rebuilt Coldwater River Bridge between Hernando and Senatobia could be open as early as December.
I-69 proper, which was opened to traffic in 2006, begins at Tunica and goes to Hernando and will traverse up Interstate 55 through Memphis. I-269 begins at I-55 in Hernando and will connect with Tenn. Highway 385, or the Bill Morris Parkway, in Collierville.
A portion of I-269 is complete from the Marshall County line to Hwy. 302.
Portions through Lewisburg to Hernando remain to be completed. Paving is underway.
The paved portion of I-269 east of 305 into Marshall County will be open this November.
The portion that begins just west of I-55 through Lewisburg is expected to be completed by May of 2018.
"By this time next year, we hope to have I-269 open to traffic," Turner said.
Turner said the project includes 100 lane miles and more than 56 bridges, in addition to rights-of-way to mow and maintain.
Closer to home, the newly-rebuilt Coldwater River Bridge is finally getting closer to opening, according to Turner.
"It's 1,000 feet longer, taller in the air and wider, so there shouldn't be safety issues," Turner said.
Robert Lee Long is Community Editor of the DeSoto Times-Tribune. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 662-429-6397, Ext. 252.