Interchange Selection Process Underway

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The findings of an evaluation of five potential sites for a new interstate interchange for the Meridian Industrial Park were presented to the public Tuesday evening.

The information will also be made available at the Lauderdale County Chancery Clerk's Office, the Meridian-Lauderdale County Public Library, Meridian City Hall, and the Lauderdale County Board of Supervisors.

"It's just a critical aspect of the project, to receive input from the public on whether it's good or bad. We need to document how it's going to affect the community. Once we receive all the comments, we'll incorporate those into our final report," said project manager, Curt Craig.

The evaluation looked at the impact the construction project would have on the environment at each of the alternative locations in 24 different areas.

But the main areas of difference between the alternatives lies in the number of necessary relocations, the amount of wetlands, the number of hazardous waste sites, creeks and/or ponds that must be crossed, alternate length and construction cost to build the interchange at each of the proposed alternatives.

"We're going to give people until May 15 to submit a written comment, if they want to comment on what they see in this report," said city engineer Monty Jackson.

The interchange, which has been in the works for the past two years, would provide the Meridian Industrial Park with easy access to Interstate 20/59 and play an important role in the economic development of the area.

"I think it'll supply jobs. That's what I'm interested in, supplying jobs for our young people," said Ronnie Massey.

Once all public comments have been received and evaluated, the city of Meridian in conjunction with the Mississippi Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration will select the "preferred alternative" for the interchange.