Hancock supers put the brakes on MDOT Hwy. 603 bypass plan

The Hancock County Board of Supervisors want the Mississippi Department of Transportation to consider modifying its plans for the massive Highway 603 bypass project to allow access and egress along the commercial corridor in Kiln.

The Highway 603 bypass project is a $35 million project which officials say will be a tremendous help as an evacuation route.

Last week, MDOT officials met with the board to discuss preliminary options on the plan and get input from the board.

Board President Rocky Pullman said there were some questions raised at the meeting.

“We surely don’t want our businesses impacted,” Pullman said. “We want the route to remain as close to Highway 603 and Highway 43 as possible.”

MDOT Gulf Coast Engineer Kelly Castelberry said Thursday the project is currently in the environmental stage and a lot can change before the project actually begins.

“We want to find the best place to put the road,” he said. “The supervisors want the road to go around Kiln, but just not go too far.”

MDOT presented the board with five potential routes last week and asked for input.

All but two of the routes were predominantly in the buffer zone, Pullman said.

“We want the traffic to be able to get off or get on near Kiln,” Pullman said. “We need to figure out how to co-inside this with our businesses.”

Pullman said there are also some very important areas he would not want to see disturbed.

“Churches and cemeteries are off limits,” he said.

Castelberry said MDOT has been meeting with the local officials and holding public hearings to learn what the residents want.

“We do not have a preferred route,” he said.

He said the environmental phase of the project may take from 18 months to two years to complete.

The project is funded through a $35 million allocation from the Department of Urban and Housing Development which is part of the “Ground Zero Action Plan.”

BY: Dwayne Bremer

The Sea Coast Echo

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