Hattiesburg officials express concerns over proposed beltway

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WJTV) - A beltway connecting highway 49 with i-59 is being discussed by the Forrest County Board of Supervisors and the City of Hattiesburg.

The proposed plan is only in the preliminary stages, but supervisor Charles Marshall says the beltway would reduce congestion at the highway 49 and interstate 59 interchange.

"If you put this highway in, you would have less traffic, you would have less miles, you would have....you'd have smooth sailing," said Marshall.

And while the city of Hattiesburg doesn't oppose the idea of a beltway to ease traffic, it does have concerns that this project would divert traffic away from local businesses.

"I think any time you're taking traffic away from the city limits and centers of commerce inside the corporate limits, that always gives us some pause because we do depend heavily on sales tax revenue," explained Mayor Barker.

Hattiesburg Ward 1 Councilman Jeffery George, whose ward would include part of the loop, says the plan should continue to be studied and discussed to determine whether or not the city would be hurt by it.

"I think you have to continue to study it and look at it,” said George. “But you know we have to make sure we're driving as much traffic and as many people around our businesses that way they're inclined to spend money there."

Marshall does concede that the loop would take away traffic from the city of Hattiesburg, but says the plan will continue to be studied and discussed.


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