- Associated Press - Saturday, March 29, 2014

HERNANDO, Miss. (AP) - A $286 million highway construction project is being touted by DeSoto County officials who way it will play a big role in boosting north Mississippi’s economy.

The Interstate 269 project includes about 25 miles of four-lane highway with at least 11 exits from Interstate 55 near Hernando through DeSoto and Marshall counties to the Tennessee state line.

The Commercial Appeal reports (https://bit.ly/1lu4XO1 ) that the work, which started in 2011, is slated for completion in the fall of 2015.

I-269 will form a 30-mile loop around Memphis through Mississippi and Tennessee. The route in Mississippi will begin at the I-55_I-69 intersection north of Hernando. It will cross U.S. Highway 78 near Byhalia and continue northeast to the Tennessee line.

MDOT officials say the bypass will relieve the press of traffic on the I-55/I-69 corridor and link I-40 and I-55 in North Mississippi.

“The fact that all these interstates connect in DeSoto County is huge,” said DeSoto Supervisor Mark Gardner of Southaven.

While I-40 is a major cross-country freight route, the I-69 section in DeSoto will be the “buckle on the belt” of a long-awaited connector between Canada and Mexico.

“This is more than just a bypass around Memphis,” said state Northern District Transportation Commissioner Mike Tagert. “The construction of I-269 will transform the region.”

He praised DeSoto officials for their role in the planning of the project. He added that the project will promote safety.

“One of the biggest benefits from the corridor will be improved freight movement,” said Tagert. “More loads will be moving on a more appropriate route, off state and local roads, which makes everyone, from the haulers to area residents, safer.”

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

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