The connection of the nation’s newest superhighway to Hernando has taken a giant step forward with last week’s groundbreaking for the I-269/McIngvale Road interchange and the corresponding realignment of McIngvale Road planned to that interchange.
State highway and local leaders converged at the intersection of McIngvale and Green T roads for the ceremony held last Friday morning, an event signaling the start of construction. About $8.7 million in funding for the realignment is joined by about $10 million in the interchange to mean a future for Hernando that will be much different than today.
“It’s going to mean a lot of growth,” said Hernando Mayor Tom Ferguson. “It is going to be commerce and all of that. We’re going to see an exit coming off of the realignment which triggers the exit for McIngvale Road off I-269.”
Northern District Transportation Commissioner Mike Tagert expects to move quickly on beginning the interchange portion of the highly anticipated addition.
“The new McIngvale Road interchange is our financial portion of this and that’s about a $10 million project,” said Tagert. “We expect to let the project in September, award it in October and start construction before the cold weather hits us. Our completion date should be within 15-18 months, assuming we don’t have some sort of major weather issue.”
As a matter of fact, the interchange would not have happened if the realignment had not happened.
“If we had got an exit right now, it would be to a dead end and MDOT won’t give us an exit to a dead end,” said Ferguson. “The city and county were responsible for making the realignment of McIngvale Road and make it straight for the interchange. It goes behind Hernando Hills Elementary School and goes back to McIngvale and Byhalia roads.”
Realigning McIngvale Road is about 1.4 miles in length and the roadway will be five lanes in width.
Ferguson said a lot of work and cooperation between several agencies put the project together.
“MDOT was the key to expediting this,” Ferguson said. “We started this in September 2017 and we just shuffled paperwork back and forth, overnighted packages, we even have driven plans and stuff back and forth. Everybody came together and expedited this to make it happen.”
“Our project would not be possible without the local project at all. We would not pursue it,” Tagert pointed out. “It’s really a testament to DeSoto County, the cities, the Memphis Planning Organization, federal highway officials and MDOT all working together. It’s a very complicated matter with the interstate having only been open for one year.”
The vision for the road and the interchange includes plans that are already being made, said Mayor Ferguson.
“There’s a planned unit development of about 400 acres that is planned here,” Ferguson said. “It’s going to be a new gateway to Hernando.”
Tagert said early plans 25 years old did not include a need for McIngvale Road interchange.
“When we awarded work on the I-269 project almost 10 years ago, McIngvale Road was almost an afterthought,” Tagert explained.
County officials were also on hand for Friday’s groundbreaking.
Bob Bakken is Managing Editor for the DeSoto Times-Tribune.