US Highway 61 expansion moves closer to becoming a reality after 32 years in the making

Local News

32 years later the expansion of US Highway 61 in Port Gibson could finally become a reality.

The Mississippi Department of Transportation met with people Thursday night to discuss their plans.

This is the last portion of the 1987 AHEAD four lane program passed by the Mississippi legislature.

As a major historical area people along Highway 61 have had their reservations about the expansion, so it’s taken a lot of time and effort to come up with a plan that most people can get behind.

32 years in the making and several failed proposals MDOT says they’re finally on the right path.

“I’m excited about the project it’s some 30 years too late,” Evan Doss, a lifelong Claiborne County resident said. 

While many are excited for the possibility of more tourism. Some neighbors along Highway 61 are concerned the expansion will knock their businesses and homes off the map, literally.

“I think there’s a lot of questions about individuals, with their individual property, and their individual business, and I understand that, and it may not be anybody’s first choice, but we got to make a choice that generally the community can live with, and meets and deals with history, and deals with the Natchez Trace coming through here,” Commissioner Dick Hall said. 

For those concerned about impeding the historic grounds, Commissioner Dick Hall says that won’t happen, saying the $130 million project will actually do the opposite bringing people and money to the area.

“We’re going to get the traffic off Church Street and put it in a more acceptable place, and we don’t think it will affect the businesses of Port Gibson there will still be access to anywhere you need to go,” Hall said. 

People in the area are also hoping the buildup along the 4 lane highway will bring commercial businesses.

“You’re already looking at a lot of franchises like Church’s Chicken, they’re looking at coming here to this community, you got Subway that’s looking at this, you’ve got Holiday Inn Express,” Doss explained. 

The next step will be getting the approval of the federal highway administration.

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