Highway 45 bypass opens
OFFICIAL OPENING Quitman Mayor Tommy Blackburn, Dr. W.W. Walley of Waynesboro, Paul Mosley, Southern District Transportation Commissioner Wayne Brown, State Rep. Eric Robinson and officials from the Mississippi Department of Transportation open a new four-lane section of Highway 45 Tuesday morning. Photo by Carisa McCain/The Meridian Star
By Steve Swogetinsky/The Meridian Star
May 16, 2001
QUITMAN A minor accident was reported within 45 minutes of opening ceremonies Tuesday, underscoring law officers' intent to keep a close eye on a new four-lane section of Highway 45.
Ceremonies were held for the opening of the 11.3 miles of four-lane road. Driving south, it picks up at the Clarkco State Park, bypasses Quitman and then ends below DeSoto.
It is part of the 1987 Four-Lane Highway Program, a four-phase legislative act to four-lane or make other improvements to more than 1,811 miles of Mississippi roads. Under the program, Highway 45 is scheduled to be four-laned from the Tennessee state line in Alcorn County to the Alabama line in Wayne County.
Concerns have been raised about access to the road from Quitman at the Clarkco exit. Cars will have to stop, cross the south-bound lane and then merge into the north-bound lane of traffic.
The new road is going to mean changing old habits for some drivers, officials said..
Construction in Clarke County began in early 1997. In some cases, county roads have crossed the new section of highway, and area residents have become accustomed to driving across it without stopping.
Deputies will be patrolling regularly in these areas. Also, traffic signs have been equipped with blinking lights, and speed bumps have been place near some of the exits.
Questions about what the bypass will mean to businesses in Quitman and the other towns that will be bypassed as the project continues have been discussed for years. Mayor Tommy Blackburn said the town will have fewer trucks passing through, but added that it was up to the town and the businesses to keep the traffic coming in.
Steve Swogetinsky is regional editor of The Meridian Star. Call him at 693-1551, ext. 3217, or e-mail him at email@example.com.