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Highway 49 Project Should Transform Cities

Dec. 1, 2021

Source: Rankin County News; Charles Bailey

RANKIN – The mayors of Florence and Richland both believe completion of the Highway 49 project will transform their cities aesthetically and attract new retail growth.

The Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) is in the midst of widening the highway to six lanes – three running north and three running south.  The project’s estimated completion date is by the end of summer, 2022.  In addition to the new lanes, traffic signals will be installed at Lowe Circle in Richland and Gunter Road, and at Cross Park Boulevard in Florence.

The widening project through Richland and Florence is estimated to cost $260,000,000.  W. G. Yates and Sons Construction Company is the contractor.

“Due to the global supply chain and issues beyond their control, the contractors can’t get a bridge finished here by Utility Trailer,” Richland Mayor Pat Sullivan said.  “That pushed the project behind, but it looks like they’re putting down the final layer of asphalt in the center (portion).”

Monterey Road and Cleary Road were realigned and a new traffic light was installed there, making a formerly tricky intersection much easier to navigate.

“We have a retail recruiter by the name of NaviRetail that is working on bringing in new retail businesses,” Sullivan said.  “They’ve been compiling and putting projects together and pitching them to developers.  It looks like as soon as they get the green light from MDOT, they’ll be ready to go.”

“The highway is already busy enough as it is, but we’re looking for development that will further enhance the quality of life – specific businesses that will help the City of Richland,” Sullivan said.  “Businesses that will generate sales tax but also benefit our citizens.”

Mayor Bob Morris in Florence expects to see retail growth as well.

“I know we will because I’ve already got a couple of businesses that have asked me about it and are wanting to come in,” he said.

“We want to lighten up the highway and the city for safety reasons.  I’m not sure what all we can do, but we definitely want to do something to improve aesthetics and make things look good.  Things are so expensive now, but we’re going to do everything we can to beautify Florence.”

Mayor Morris said he’s happy with the progress that has been made to this point, and the city has areas zoned for retail growth that are waiting to blossom.

With 50,000 to 75,000 cars coming through every day, with two lanes required to be open on both sides, safety is one thing that I’ve really been impressed with,” Richland Mayor Sullivan said.  “We haven’t had a fatality or major injuries on the road, to workers or drivers.”

“When this is finished,  Richland will look totally different,” he said.  “One thing that we’re really wanting to do is add street lights on the highway, but we can’t do that until MDOT releases the project.”


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