Gov. Reeves, officials cut ribbon in celebration of Highway 49 expansion

Published: Aug. 8, 2022 at 3:36 PM CDT
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RANKIN CO., Miss. (WLBT) - Officials gathered to cut the ribbon in Richland on Monday and celebrate the recently expanded U.S. Highway 49 in Rankin County.

Central Transportation Commissioner Willie Simmons was joined by Governor Tate Reeves to celebrate the completion of this massive 7.5-mile infrastructure improvement project that began in 2017.

Gov. Reeves, officials cut ribbon in celebration of Highway 49 expansion
Gov. Reeves, officials cut ribbon in celebration of Highway 49 expansion(MDOT)

“This 7.5-mile stretch of improvements from Florence to Richland consists of five years of committed work, $253 million, and a lot of collaboration between the public and private sector, and I am so grateful,” said Simmons.

The project was set out for the widening of 7.5 miles of U.S. 49 from Florence to Richland, expanding the highway to three travel lanes and a shoulder in each direction.

The press release reads that during the construction process, crews experienced many challenges, such as heavy rains between 2018 and 2020, which prolonged the project. However, crews were able to finish the project without completely shutting down the highway while having two lanes open for traffic.

“We recognize that if we’re going to see long-term economic growth and prosperity then we must invest in our infrastructure,” said Reeves. “The partnership between the Mississippi Legislature over the last five years and the executive branch has led to significant capital investments in core infrastructure. Infrastructure is exactly what the government is supposed to do. It is a core function of government. It’s going to make a difference long term and it’s something I think we can all be proud of.”

The $253 million project was awarded to W.G. Yates and Son Construction Company of Jackson.

The newly expanded roadway greatly reduces traffic congestion while enhancing safety and local commute times. According to the press release, Hwy 49 sees an average of 51,000 vehicles per day in Richland and 34,000 in Florence.

Commercial traffic moving through the area, including tractor-trailers and other commercial motor vehicles, will now experience a more predictable and simple journey.

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