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The Union County Board of Supervisors has asked the state to use $40 million to improve state Highway 15 between New Albany and Pontotoc, instead of widening state Highway 9 between Blue Springs and Highway 348.
At its meeting Monday, the board urged the legislature, the Mississippi Development Authority and the state Department of Transportation to make the change.
The board said that Highway 348 is structurally inadequate to handle the increase in traffic that would be generated by a widened Highway 9.
Some opposition to the widening has surfaced in the area. Toyota Manufacturing Mississippi, which has its plant at Blue Springs, also has publicly stated that it has not requested the Highway 9 improvements north of Blue Springs.
We agree with those opposed to the widening of Highway 9. It seems to us that U. S. 78 (Interstate 22) and U.S. 45 can adequately handle any traffic between the Toyota plant and any parts suppliers north of Tupelo.
Meanwhile, Highway 15 is extremely busy between New Albany and Pontotoc. Widening it to four lanes would serve the 4,000 manufacturing jobs (including Ashley Furniture) along the road.
It also would provide residents of Pontotoc with easier access to U.S. 78, and to the flourishing shopping areas in New Albany. It’s a win-win situation for both communities.
We think the state should agree to shift the money to a much more useful purpose as requested by the county Board of Supervisors.