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MDOT: Highway 49 expected to be completed by end of this summer

Published: May. 10, 2022 at 10:20 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - A stretch of Highway 49 gets especially busy this time of year as more people are traveling to and from the Mississippi coast. But the construction and slow-down may not last much longer.

“The project, happy to report, is nearing completion,” explained MDOT public information officer Michael Flood. “So, we’re in the final stages of it now.”

“What’s your reaction to that?” we asked Tom Cook. “I’m gonna pray for them,” he replied.

“The initial reaction is just, like, a sigh of relief,” said Nichole Keen.

The 7.5-mile stretch of this project along Highway 49 started in 2017. So, what’s left?

“Expect to see paving, a lot of paving going on now,” noted Flood. “And then eventually striping, and striping is usually done at the end of the project. And once all the paving is complete, so hopefully in about a month or so, if you’re driving through there, you will see some striping and permanent sign placement. Most of the work now is taking place on the side roads and the driveways that tie into Highway 49.”

Just off 49 is Willow Blu in Richland where they’ve felt the impacts.

“When this construction started, we relied heavily on our retail here in shop,” said Willow Blu partner Nichole Keen. “But we have noticed that as construction has gotten to where it has, most people don’t want to stop and come in. Most people would rather just get through the traffic and get on. Let’s get past, you know, Richland into Pearl, and let’s kind of get past, you know, all of the bottlenecking.”

Yet, they’re seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and have noticed recent improvements. Next door, a newly relocated Tom’s Fried Pies has seen the ebb and flow of business with the construction.

“We have seasonal customers,” described co-owner Vickie Chapman. “So, we have customers that come in, their entire family may come in on their trip to the beach or wherever just to stop and play Tom for checkers or grab some fried pies to take with them.”

“We have an awful lot of people come with the two lanes, so three lanes might bring more people,” noted original owner Tom Cook. “So, it might be better for me.”

Till it’s a done deal, MDOT does have some advice. Watch out for those work zones. And keep packing a little patience because lane closures will still be a thing as they complete the project.

MDOT doesn’t have an exact date since variables like weather can move it slightly. But they are saying by the end of the summer, Highway 49 should be complete.

At that time, there will be three lanes in each direction and a newly created shoulder that didn’t exist before the project.

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