New Mississippi 15 routes unveiled

Two plans follow existing highways

          Jared Lipskoch, left, and David Ferrell, right, of Solid Civil Design at a public forum Tuesday at Latimer Community Center show James Tanner, who lives in Harrison County on Mississippi 15, where his property is in relation to new highway plans.

LATIMER

The state Department of Transportation is throwing two more alternatives into the mix of possible routes for a new Mississippi 15.

Those unveiled Tuesday follow existing highways almost exclusively. And a route through Latimer that faced opposition has been modified to travel about 3 miles north through De Soto National Forest land rather than through neighborhoods.

The new alternatives met with more approval than in meetings past, when people said they felt as if they were fighting to save their community from being cut in two.

Lori Massey, who helped lead that fight last fall, said Tuesday the group formed in Latimer called “Keep 15 in Its Rightful Place” prefers a route that uses existing roads.

“We’re happy if they use taxpayers’ dollars in a common-sense way and not take people’s homes and businesses needlessly,” Massey said.

One of the two new routes would follow Mississippi 15 north from I-110 on most of its current path, then across to Mississippi 57 on Mississippi 26 and a four-laned Mississippi 57 north.

The other would skip what is now Mississippi 15 altogether. It would start at I-110, head east on Interstate 10 and go up Mississippi 57, widening it to four lanes all the way.

All five proposed routes tie into Mississippi 15 where it picks up just north of Beaumont.

One of the original routes is simply existing Mississippi 15 with all the gaps filled in, through national forest land in Perry County and Camp Shelby. The other would go up Mississippi 15 into the Red Creek management area of Stone County, split off to the east and merge with Mississippi 57 at about Mississippi 26.

Jackson County Supervisor Tommy Brodnax, who represents west Jackson County, said he is all for the route through Latimer. It veers off Mississippi 15 a few miles north of I-10 and goes through West Jackson County.

“That’s the one we want,” Brodnax said. “That way the county can merge Tucker Road into it and use it as an evacuation route for Ocean Springs and St. Martin.”

Tucker Road is known as Mississippi 609 or North Washington Avenue, south of I-10.

Brodnax said Jackson County needs another major east-west corridor and that route would serve as one. He also said that route would allow for four-laning most of Mississippi 57.

Whatever route is selected, improving Mississippi 15 and connecting it in Perry County helps MDOT supply a segment of the Legislature directive to provide a four-lane highway from the Coast to Tennessee.

People who showed up at the Latimer Community Center on Tuesday wanted to see the routes.

“People are really interested,” said Leah Bray, who lives in the Vancleave area. “They want to know. There’s a lot of misinformation. They don’t want to be kept in the dark.”

Two more public meetings are scheduled north of the Coast. Then there may be another round of informal public meetings before the state is ready for a public hearing, MDOT officials said. 


By KAREN NELSON – klnelson@sunherald.com

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