A meeting to generate reinterest in the La. 25/Miss. 27 project, involving the proposed 4-laning of the route beginning at Covington, La., north to Crystal Springs, Miss., was held in Tylertown recently with representatives of Mississippi and Louisiana in attendance.
There’s been renewed interest in the project since a meeting in Franklinton involving Louisiana officials along with Mississippi officials from towns along the proposed route. The project also was mentioned in the 2019 Louisiana elections along with a proposal to four-lane a route from Bogalusa to the interstate to boost that area’s economy.
In addition U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy (R-La.), John Kennedy (R-La.) and Doug Jones (D-Ala.) have introduced the Be Safe Act of 2019 to improve emergency evacuation routes in rural areas creating an up to $100 million competitive grand program for work on roads and bridges.
While the Hwy. 25/Hwy. 27 project is touted by officials as an additional route north for hurricane evacuation, leaders in both states make no bones about the side benefit of the projects being the economic development opportunities created for the Louisiana and Mississippi cities along the route.
Tylertown recently hosted a second meeting, resulting in a third meeting to be scheduled later at Franklinton. Former Monticello Mayor Dave Nichols, who begin pushing for the project as far back as 1999, attended to explain the project’s background to the group, joined by local attorney Ryan Bruhl, who has taken an interest in seeing the project through to completion.
The groups’ basic argument is if more people utilized 27-25 as a straight shot out of New Orleans, the interstates would be better able to move traffic faster and more efficiently.
An earlier study on the project, paid with federal funds, shows printouts of the segments of the highway from the state line to Crystal Springs.
The study also points out that the proposed northbound four-lane (the 25-27 route) could divert as much as 50% of the traffic which are presently using the interstates. It now takes three days to evacuate New Orleans. Moving a high percentage of traffic from the interstate would cut that to two days.
Louisiana officials are looking at the 4-laning of the route from Covington to the Miss. State line (La. Hwy. 25). There is some concern expressed by some local officials there of the route bypassing their cities in order to expedite traffic through areas that bottleneck traffic. Local officials say bypassing downtown usually leads to an expansion of business, as retail establishments usually seek to develop new locations along a bypass.
Another concern in Louisiana is a bridge at Covington that slows traffic.
On the Mississippi side, the first segment to be constructed would connect Hwy. 27, south from Hwy. 98 to the state line. The next segment planned would carry Hwy. 27 north from Hwy. 98 to Hwy. 84 at Monticello. Then, the third phase connects from its intersection with Hwy. 84 to State Route 28 at Georgetown, and the final segment from Georgetown to I-55 at Crystal Springs.
Of course, the emergency corridor designation is what makes the highway a feasible project, enough for it to be placed on the state’s highway construction program. The advantage to northbound traffic out of Louisiana is the ability to access Hwy. 98 and Hwy. 84, east-west routes to shelter. Another east-west route is available at Georgetown prior to joining I-55 at Crystal Springs.
The group wants additional funding for studies as the more information available could eventually determine a project as “shovel ready” making it more likely for federal funding.
Hwy. 27-25 is already a designated evacuation route, although the study suggests that a 4-lane 27-25 corridor could better disperse residents trying to flee the city, allowing them to escape farther north, then continue north or go east or west to seek shelter, eliminating bottlenecks.