- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 8, 2014

HERNANDO, Miss. (AP) - DeSoto County will borrow $83 million through the state to keep work going on the Interstate 69 project.

The Interstate 69 trade belt from Mexico to Canada includes 25 miles of four-lane highway from Interstate 55 near Hernando through DeSoto and Marshall counties to the Tennessee state line. Work began in 2011 with completion expected in fall 2015.

“It’s necessary, because without this, construction would stop,” said Board of Supervisors President Lee Caldwell of Nesbit about issuing bonds for the $83 million.

“And it won’t take from the taxpayers of DeSoto County,” she told The Commercial Appeal (http://bit.ly/1lNbsMe ) after Monday’s action.

The transportation agency has no bonding authority, but local governments do. Under the program, the funds are repaid by the Federal Highway Administration through the state Transportation Department.

DeSoto supervisors also agreed to increase the overall funding cap from $275 million to $375 million. Marshall County has taken similar action.

Northern District Transportation Commissioner Mike Tagert recently told supervisors that construction is underway on all phases of the seven-part project, with several more than halfway done. However, Tagert said funding wasn’t halfway done, noting the final phases of paving and asphalt overlays would be the most expensive.

DeSoto County financial consultant Steve Pittman said $275 million cap “was a ‘guesstimate.’ Right of way costs and construction costs have been higher than anticipated.”

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Information from: The Commercial Appeal, http://www.commercialappeal.com