2nd $25M sought for Miss. 19
By William B. Carroll
Another type of $25 million federal grant is being sought to complete the four-laning of Mississippi 19 into Philadelphia from the House community.
Last year, a similar grant application was rejected. MDOT announced last August it was shelving plans for the $130 million bypass from Williamsville to near Posey Hill on Mississippi 19 south because of lack of monies for the project that has been on the drawing board for three decades. The Mississippi 19 project, meanwhile, remains viable because, among other things, so much right-of-way has already been purchased.
The bypass, officials here have said, is key to any future expansion at Philadelphia’s Weyerhaeuser mill, which recently underwent a $57.3 million modernization.
The new grant application seeks $25 million from the 2018 BUILD Transportation Discretionary Grants overseen by the U.S. Department of Transportation. The grant was submitted by MDOT to go toward the nearly $60 million project that covers about nine miles.
According to the grant proposal, the state is willing to contribute over $16 million in matching funds. About $10.1 million would come from MDOT monies set aside under the Mississippi Highway 19 Improvements Fund. An additional, $5.3 million would come from Mississippi Development Authority Funds approved by the authority on March 14, 2016. The final $760,000 comes from state funds from the state Legislature.
Community Development Partnership President David Vowell announced the submission last Wednesday during the CDP’s regularly scheduled meeting. Vowell said that the application had been submitted on July 17 and that he was hopeful a decision on the proposal would be reached before mid-December.
Vowell said that Steve Murray, chairman of the Neshoba County Business Enterprise Center, helped significantly in the project. Vowell said that MDOT provided a consultant, Randy Battie, on the grant application and Murray worked closely with Battie to create the final document.
Vowell said the proposal was helped immensely by the list of those who wrote support letters on behalf of the project.
“We have a very impressive list of people who wrote letters for us, including Gov. Bryant, Sen. Roger Wicker and Sen. Cindy-Hyde Smith,” Vowell said. Last year, now retired Sen. Thad Cochran played a role in the previous grant. “Cochran’s office thinks we need to apply to finish Highway 19 since it is shovel-ready and after then work on avenues for the bypass,” Vowell said in 2017.
Bryant’s letter dated July 3, for instance, defined the corridor as a “critical transportation corridor” for the state.
“These improvements will enhance freight movement, provide access to other reliable and affordable surface transportation options and increase the safety of the traveling public,” Bryant said.
According to the grant proposal, the current two-lane portion of the highway experienced 69 accidents involving 106 vehicles with 42 injuries and one fatality since Jan. 2013. It is proposed that the improvements would reduce this accident rate by 21 percent.
The proposed project will improve a 9.4-mile segment of Highway 19 and will include the construction of two new travel lanes for 4.5 miles between Tucker and Philadelphia and replace five bridges in a 4.9-mile section between Road 492 and Tucker.