Second Interchange Site Considered

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When Hawkins Crossing was selected for the interchange, engineers said it was the only one that fit federal requirements of being at least one mile from any other interchange.

Authorities are now taking a second look at Sweet Gum Bottom Road, which technically is non-conforming because it is closer than a mile to the Highway 45 bypass.

Mayor John Robert Smith said the situation has frustrated him.

"That seems to be a moving target and some things we were told early on were absolutely concrete and cannot be altered now appear to be somewhat in question," Smith said. "But we were given marching orders to study the area of Sweet Gum Bottom and that's what we're going to do."

The City Council approved a federally funded environmental study Tuesday, designed to compare the two locations before the absolute decision is made.

"I don't think it's a matter of winning or losing or blinking," said Smith. "I think it's exactly what I said. We were given a target and we were told that target was hard and fast. That target has moved around on us."

But who moved it? The Federal Highway Administration, Mississippi Department of transportation, the engineers or the city?

Even the mayor doesn't know. The two sites will be compared and a final decision will be made after the new study is completed.