Officials react to Highway 19 widening project

PHILADELPHIA, Miss. (WTOK) - People in east Mississippi have wanted the state to four-lane Highway 19 all the way from Meridian to Neshoba County for decades.

That dream will become a reality now that the state has secured a $25 million federal grant to help fund the $40 million project to complete the third phase of 4-laning from the House community to Philadelphia.

"The economic benefits are going to be astronomical, because most goods and services, now come by rails or trucks. This is going to make it safer. This is going to open it up. It's going to open up this part of central Mississippi like we've never seen it before,” says Philadelphia Mayor James Young.

State Sen. Jenifer Branning says 4-laning the highway will make it much safer for drivers.

"Well it will address critical safety needs that have been existing a long time on Highway 19,” says Branning.

Branning says the project has been a goal of hers for the past two years.

"Since I took office in 2016, along with Scott Bounds, we've worked together to do what we need to address the local infrastructure needs, with our federal delegation, our state leadership and local economic development professionals. So it was a group effort to see it comes to pass,” says Branning.

The remaining $15 million of the $40 million project will come from state funds.

"It’s another sign for, if you have a financial stability, able to match some funds. It makes a difference. Tax dollars and wise spending of tax dollars is what is helping bring this project to fruition,” says Mayor Young.

A timeline of when construction will start hasn't been released.