Government moves slow but occasionally it is worth it.
Coahoma County supervisors and state highway officials gathered earlier this month to formally snip the ribbon on the Jonestown Bypass a project that took years to accomplish but that came in early and under budget.
The bypass encompasses the construction of 1.1 miles of highway from the existing State Route 316 to Matagorda Road. The project included grading, drainage, traffic signage and pavement markings.
“I can’t tell you exactly when we got started on this project,” said Board of Supervisors President Johnny Newson. “But this is a new road that will mean a lot to Jonestown.”
Jonestown is in Dist. 3 Supervisor Derrell Washington, beat and he too, said the highway will be good for Jonestown and this part of the county.
“Trucks from the mill will use it and farmers going east or west will benefit from this,” said Washington. “Everybody will use it and this will send people around town and should be safer, too.”
District 1 Supervisor Paul Pearson said work on the Jonestown bypass started when Senator Thad Cochran allocated $900,000 in funding for the project almost 10 years ago.
The delay came with the county’s match and local officials patched together a series of funding packages using state, local and federal funding.
M & N Construction, LLC of Tupelo was able to finish the project on time and on budget. This $12.5 million project began construction in December 2019 and Ken Weiland said once the bid was let things went smoothly.
The construction contract was $ 2,605,736.24 and the final cost could be up to $150,000 below the contract amount. The project also finished approximately 6 months ahead of the anticipated completion date.
Northern District Transportation Commissioner John Caldwell applauded the collaboration that brought the project to life. “It’s good to see proactive leadership in the county and local, state and federal partners working together,” Caldwell said.
The project was funded by the Federal Highway Administration and appropriated by the Mississippi Department of Transportation with a local match.
Mississippi Senator Robert Jackson said there needs to be more highway construction similar to this project and he hopes President Biden’s “Build Back Better” will help funnel money to Mississippi.
“For too long the Delta has been left out of highway construction project and I hope that will change,” said Jackson. “These things don’t move fast, but this one apparently happened at the speed it was supposed to. This is a nice road and will be a benefit for this part of Mississippi.”