Hub City breaks ground on historic railway overpass
HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - The City of Hattiesburg made history Tuesday with a groundbreaking ceremony for a new overpass.
City, state and federal leaders picked up shovels near the intersection of Hall Avenue, Bay Street and Old Highway 49... breaking ground on the city’s first railway overpass.
“This is a project that was needed for probably 100 years, a generations-old transportation issue,” said Toby Barker, Mayor, City of Hattiesburg.
The $13.6-million-dollar project is funded in part by a $5.39-million-dollar grant from the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements Program.
It was a joint effort between Hattiesburg leaders all the way to the state’s representatives in Washington, D.C., to get the funding.
“Our two senators and our congressman went to bat for us this time,” said Barker.
“It takes someone like Toby to come to us and say, ‘look... we’ve got a project, we’ve got a need, and can you help us?’ And then what we do is him and our staff and his staff, they work together to try and find a funding mechanism,” said Rep. Steven Palazzo, R-Mississippi.
The overpass will extend Hall Avenue.
“In about two years on this very spot, you will have an overpass that delivers motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians over the Canadian National line just behind us,” said Barker.
It’s set to be completely transformative for the Hub City and its residents.
“If you ask anyone who’s ever lived or worked or tried to access the old hospital here... having the railway crossing blocked really is sometimes a life and death situation...,” said Barker. “We’re excited about what this will bring to the neighborhoods in terms of connectivity, in terms of access to first responders, and hopefully to further economic growth in this area.”
Plus, it may make it a bit quicker to get to some fan-favorite spots.
“You’re coming into Hattiesburg and it’s almost 2 o’clock and you want to stop off at Coney Island Café... and you can’t get to Coney Island Café so, I think it’s a quality-of-life issue as well,” said Palazzo.
The project is expected to take 24 months to complete. Construction is set to begin by 2023.
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