“Historic” is perhaps the best descriptor for the year 2023 at the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT). The agency received record levels of funding to improve and build upon Mississippi’s infrastructure and notably, embarked on several capacity projects.
From the Mississippi Legislature, MDOT received a total of almost $2 billion, which includes a nearly $1.5 billion earmark-free appropriation as well as a $620 million supplemental appropriation.
“2023 was an exceptional year for MDOT, not only in terms of the historic funding received, but also for our increased commitment to efficiency and the exciting, large projects we have embarked upon,” said Brad White, MDOT Executive Director. “The people of Mississippi will benefit for decades to come from MDOT’s work and funding in 2023. We remain grateful to Congress, the Mississippi Legislature and Gov. Tate Reeves for entrusting us with significant funding that allows MDOT to accomplish more.”
For several years, MDOT focused largely on maintenance projects instead of major construction projects due to lack of funding and rising costs. The $620 million supplemental appropriation from the Legislature will pave the way to start work on eight major capacity projects that will increase safety, alleviate congestion and help grow Mississippi’s economy. MDOT is already putting these dollars in motion with several capacity projects slated to break ground in 2024.
MDOT’s record of efficiency also earned the department an increase in federal obligation authority and in turn, access to additional federal funding. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) obligated $926 million in federal funds for federal fiscal year 2023 ending September 30, over $100 million more than the previous year.
Along with funding records, MDOT recognized another historic milestone in 2023 – the five-year anniversary of I-269. Since its opening, this $640 million strategic infrastructure investment has not only provided the efficient movement of people and goods but also spurred exceptional economic growth in the area.
To be good stewards of these taxpayer dollars and help keep state highways clean, MDOT relaunched its litter prevention campaign this fall. The statewide campaign featured agency employees eagerly asking Mississippians to help MDOT and put trash where it belongs. The campaign reached over two million people through television, streaming, radio and social media.
In addition to these milestones and special projects, significant infrastructure projects are taking place across the state.
In north Mississippi, a much anticipated project known as Corridor V, designated as State Route 76, opened to traffic in Itawamba County. The final section of the $97 million project connecting State Route 25 and State Route 23 was completed this year, representing a critical link in a tri-state supply chain for auto manufacturers.
Also in north Mississippi, a new roundabout is coming to Benton County at the intersection of U.S. 72 and State Route 7 in Benton County. Capable of handling wide loads including semi-trailers, the roundabout will reduce conflict points, lower motorists’ speed and ultimately, decrease severe and fatal crashes. This $7.8 million project is expected to be completed in June 2024.
In the Mississippi Delta, major progress was made in 2023 on a $137 million project to construct a new roadway known as the U.S. 82 Greenville Bypass. Running nine miles from State Route 1 to Leland in Washington County, the bypass will help promote regional economic development and make area roads safer. The project is on track to be completed fall 2025.
In the central region of the state, crews completed a design-build project in 2023 on I-59 and I-20 in Meridian that involved widening heavily traveled interstate bridges over State Route 19/39 and 65th Ave., removing bridges over Knight Parker Rd. and upgrading interstate lighting. This $24.4 million project greatly enhances safety and efficiency for motorists and commercial traffic throughout Lauderdale County.
In the southwestern portion of the state, three bridges in Simpson County are being replaced on State Route 149, bringing them up to modern standards. This $25 million project is expected to wrap up in summer 2024.
A massive $212.6 million project in south Mississippi kicked off in 2023 with the State Route 57 widening and bypass project in Jackson County. SR 57 is being widened from two to four lanes and a new alignment is under construction. This project will alleviate congestion in the area and expand the capacity of the roadway, which is a hurricane evacuation route. Work is expected to be completed in 2027.
These projects represent a small number of the hundreds of projects MDOT undertakes and completes each year to meet Mississippi’s infrastructure needs. In addition to federal funding and state appropriations, the agency receives $80 million each fiscal year from the Mississippi Lottery, funds that are used to pave rural highways across the state. This year and each year, MDOT strives to put every dollar received into action to make meaningful and lasting improvements to Mississippi’s infrastructure.