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Officials mark start of new Hwy. 84 work

MONTICELLO — Local and state officials and guests celebratedthe extension of the Highway 84 four-laning project solemnlyWednesday with many references to the tragedy of a year ago.

In his opening remarks, Mayor David Nichols said theground-breaking ceremonies were proof “that American resolve cannotbe swayed” and that America, as a nation and state, will continueto move forward.

“We are a country and state who can move about freely, and thisground-breaking is evidence of that,” he said.

The ground-breaking celebrated the expansion of the Highway 84Phase II project from Old Highway 27 to Ferguson Mill Road, andincludes a new bridge across the Pearl River. Construction on PhaseI of the project, from the Lawrence-Lincoln county line to the citylimits, is continuing.

“This is a great project and a milestone” for the state, saidWayne Brown, southern district transportation commissioner.

Construction costs on Phase II are more than $25 million.Approximately $1.2 million of the cost is in purchasingright-of-ways from private citizens, Brown said.

In all, he said, 49 parcels of land were purchased and fourhomes or businesses had to be relocated.

“Many times, the land-owners are often overlooked. We expressour appreciation to those people who had their lives and businessesdisrupted for this project,” Brown said.

County residents should immediately notice a change in thenumber of accidents once the project is complete, he said. Citingstatistics, Brown said four-lane highways were more than five timessafer than a two-lane highway and that is what makes the project soimportant.

He estimated the completion date of Phase II for sometime in2005.

Phase III of the project will expand Highway 84 from FergusonMill Road to the Lawrence-Jefferson Davis county line, includingthe south Silver Creek bypass. Bids for Phase III are expected tobe received in late 2002 or early 2003, according to Paul McLain,director of the Lawrence County Community DevelopmentAssociation.