The finished overpasses have sat uncompleted on the outskirts of Greenville for years.
There’s grass on the never-paved road beds, but there are ruts from trespassers who have used what would be the highway to bypass Greenville as a playground for off-road vehicles.
On Monday the state’s two senators, Roger Wicker and Cindy Hyde-Smith announced a grant of $71.46 million to complete work on the U.S. 82 bypass of Greenville.
The work was started more than 10 years ago.
The Mississippi Department of Transportation initiated the project to connect the Mississippi River Bridge to an Interchange with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard south of Greenville.
The funding would complete construction of 15.6 miles of the Greenville Bypass Freight Corridor, which will complete a US 82 bypass from near the Greenville Bridge to Leland east of Greenville.
“Completion of the Greenville Bypass is good for Mississippi and will have a significant impact for Greenville, the Delta, and the communities along U.S. 82,” Wicker said. “This major award from the U.S. Department of Transportation is the final piece of a multi-phase effort by state and local officials to ensure this highway remains a source of economic vitality for our state.”
“Work on the Leland-Greenville bypass started more than a decade ago, which makes this large grant to complete the project significant. Local and state support, along with the Trump administration’s attention to improving rural infrastructure, was key to winning this award,” said Hyde-Smith, who serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee. “Completing the bypass will change this region by taking heavy trucks off Greenville city streets and relying on the bypass to move freight more efficiently through Washington County. The project can also serve as an economic engine to bring more commerce and jobs to the region.”
The DOT award is part of the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) discretionary grant program. Today’s announcement marks the start of a 60-day congressional review period, after which the funding would be made available. It supports the DOT’s ROUTES (Rural Opportunities to Use Transportation for Economic Success) initiative to address disparities in rural transportation infrastructure to improve safety and economic competitiveness in all parts of the U.S.
While many may see the completion of a bypass as a detriment to the downtown viability of Greenville, local officials are pleased to see the work coming to town.
“The completion of this bypass will further bolster Washington County’s transportation infrastructure and increase our competitiveness for industrial recruitment as the bypass will connect both of our shovel ready industrial parks,” said William Coppage, executive director of the Washington County Economic Alliance. “Furthermore, I want to thank Sen. Wicker and Sen. Hyde-Smith as they continue to support and steer investments to our community.”
Greenville Mayor Errick Simmons was equally as effusive in praise for the grant.
“The completion of this transportation infrastructure project will promote economic growth, enhance public safety, sustain existing jobs, and create new jobs within the entire region,” Simmons said. “The project supports economic vitality by reducing travel times for freight and personal vehicles traveling through western Mississippi on US 82, which is currently routed through 12 signalized intersections in downtown Greenville. Transportation infrastructure improvements to major highways and thoroughfares, like the Greenville Bypass Freight Corridor Improvement Project, are direct links to regional economic development and growth. Thanks to local, state, and federal stakeholders.”