Baxter, Jones pushing for Reunion bridge fundingBy MEGAN PHILLIPS,
The first phase of the Reunion interchange might be funded through this year’s state bond bill, say county officials.
District 2 Supervisor Trey Baxter said he and District 1 Supervisor Sheila Jones have been meeting with state legislators, including Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and Speaker of the House Philip Gunn.
“(Jones) and I have met with Lt. Gov. Reeves. He’s very supportive of the project and believes it can be funded this year,” Baxter said. “(Jones) and I have met with Philip Gunn and his staff, and they’re very supportive (of the fact that) it can be funded this year. It’s my understanding they’re going to ask to finance it in the bond bill.”
Specifically, Baxter said the county is looking to fund the bridge, which will cost approximately $24 million.
“What we’re building here is the bridge,” he said. “Dick Hall (Mississippi Department of Transportation Central District Transportation Commissioner) has agreed to build the ramp to connect (the bridge) to the interstate.”
Hall said he’s unsure how much the ramps will cost to build, and the ramps won’t be built for a while.
“We simply don’t have the money,” he said. “Plus, if we did, we’re not quite ready for that anyway. I have no doubt that at some time, we will be. If they’re ready to cross (the interstate), it’s a great thing to do. We’ll approve it and encourage them to do it.”
Hall also said that, at this point, the bridge is not part of the state’s proposal to the Legislature.
“We’re not against (the bridge), but it’s not part of our legislative plan. We’ve got other priorities. But, if the county can get it done, then fine… It’s (just) not part of the MDOT plan for the Mississippi Legislature this year.”
According to Baxter, building the interchange will be part of a larger transportation network throughout south Madison County.
“The bridge and the interchange is one part of a larger transportation network, which includes widening Bozeman and Gluckstadt (roads), which are both under design; building Reunion three, which will connect U.S. Highway 51 to Parkway East.”
Baxter said that just building the bridge won’t solve south Madison County’s traffic problems, but that once all the above projects are completed, they will create a transportation network that will greatly reduce current traffic woes.
According to a recently issued county document and traffic study, east-west traffic is growing at an annual rate of 6 percent.
East-west traffic on Gluckstadt Road holds approximately 17,000 vehicles per day, exceeding capacity by 70 percent.
“The traffic study projected, based on the current 6 percent annual growth rate, that the average daily traffic will be 30,000 vehicles per day in 2027… which will be 200 percent greater than the current road’s capacity,” the document states.
County supervisors recently approved widening Gluckstadt Road as well as Bozeman Road, though that will not provide the needed capacity for the projected 2027 traffic count.
“It is clear that Madison County needs another east-west corridor and access to Interstate 55 to handle the traffic growth generated by ongoing commercial and residential development.”
The first phase of Reunion stretches from Mississippi Highway 463 to Bozeman Road. Phase three, which extends from Parkway East to U.S. Highway 51, is in design.
“Phase two will consist of a multi-lane road from Bozeman Road to Parkway East with a bridge (and eventually an interchange) over Interstate 55… The Madison County Board of Supervisors has taken steps to begin phase two by hiring a professional engineer to prepare the environmental reassessment, which will be completed before the end of 2018.”
Upon completion of the Reunion interchange, Madison County is projected to have $8.6 million in incremental property taxes and more than $30 million in new sales tax revenue for the state.
“The interchange will open up approximately 880 acres of potential economic development opportunities for Madison County and sustain the projected growth of 18,000 new citizens expected to call the county home within the next eight to 10 years,” the Madison County Economic Development Authority (MCEDA) support letter states.
Both documents can be found at at the links below.
Reunion Parkway Phase 2 White Paper
Reunion MCEDA Support Letter