The Mississippi 19 four-laning project will get a $2 million infusion, thanks to the $750 million BP settlement bill recently approved by the state Legislature.




With the latest infusion, about $39.1 million is still needed to complete the 9.4-mile project from House to the city limits as local, state and federal officials work together to amass the remaining monies, including a pending $25 million federal grant the state would match to finish the road.

The $2 million in BP monies approved last week and signed by Gov. Phil Bryant is part of $111 million in funds earmarked for special projects across the state.

Also in the bill passed last week, Neshoba County will share 25 percent of the remaining BP funds with other inland counties for road and bridge repairs. The other 75 percent will be shared among the six coastal counties.

“I am thrilled that we were able to get that money for the community,” said state Sen. Jenifer Branning who helped draft the legislation.

The proposed project will include the construction of two new travel lanes between House and Philadelphia and  five bridges.

The BP funds are earmarked specifically for the portion of the project to four-lane Mississippi 19 from the Philadelphia city limits to Tucker.

The $25 million in federal monies is being sought again. Last year, a similar federal grant was rejected.

MDOT announced last August it was shelving plans for the $130 million bypass from Williamsville to near Posey Hill on Mississippi 19 south because of lack of monies for the project that has been on the drawing board for three decades.

The Mississippi 19 four-laning, meanwhile, remains viable because, among other things, so much right-of-way has already been purchased, officials said.

The bypass, officials here have said, is key to any future expansion at Philadelphia’s Weyerhaeuser mill, which recently underwent a $57.3 million modernization and could possibly expand in the future if the plant has better highway access.

The latest grant application seeks $25 million from the 2018 BUILD Transportation Discretionary Grants overseen by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

According to the grant proposal, the state is willing to contribute over $16 million in matching funds. About $10.1 million would come from MDOT monies set aside under the Mississippi Highway 19 Improvements Fund. An additional $5.3 million would come from Mississippi Development Authority funds approved in 2016. The final $760,000 would come from the state.

Community Development Partnership President David Vowell said that while the funds may not be eligible to match the CDP’s BUILD grant application, it can only help the proposal.

"I want to thank Rep. Scott Bounds and Sen. Jenifer Branning," Vowell said. "These funds will hopefully make our BUILD application that much stronger."

"I think we have a strong application," Bounds said. "I know our entire Congressional delegation was in support of the project."

Vowell said he expects to hear the results of the grant application later this year.