$25M will finish Miss. 19 4-laning
By Steve Swogetinsky
A project that would widen Highway 19 to four lanes from House to Philadelphia received a big boost toward becoming a reality last week, thanks to $25 million federal grant.
The project most recently got a $2 million infusion from the $750 million BP settlement bill approved in September by the state Legislature.
About $39.1 million was needed to complete the 9.4-mile project from House to the city limits, so with the $25 million federal grant, the state has said it will match that to finish the road.
Sens. Roger Wicker and Cindy Hyde-Smith made the announcement about the federal grant last week.
“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 this well-traveled corridor,” Senator Wicker said in a press release. “We’ll continue to work to find additional resources to support Mississippi’s infrastructure needs.”
Local officials started putting the application for the grant together in 2017 after visiting elected and federal officials during a trip to Washington. It was submitted in mid-July of this year. Word came down Thursday that it had been accepted.
“The competition for these grant funds has been intense, which makes this award to Neshoba County special,” Sen. Hyde-Smith said. “This project is intended to improve public safety and increase the attractiveness of these areas for growth. We’ll continue to work to find additional resources to support Mississippi’s infrastructure needs.”
Along with $18.05 million in state matching funds, more than $43 million is now earmarked for the widening.
MDOT had come up with $10 million for five bridges, and $750,000 came from state bond money.
“They already have bought the right-of-way for the project, and utilities have already been moved,” said David Vowell of the Community Development Partnership. “MDOT supported us in the application project by giving us a consultant who helped us build the application.”
So when will the construction get started? Philadelphia Mayor James Young said not soon enough.
“This federal grant is a major shot in the arm,” Mayor Young said. “No. 1, it will improve the safety of the people who travel on Highway 19. No. 2, it has been in the planning phases for years and years. No. 3, it is going to help our city and county economically. You will have a better way of travel.”