By TED CARTER
A ceremonial highway groundbreaking that got rained out last week represented the start of a new era for Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport’s long-held vision to develop hundreds of acres the airport owns between Lakeland Drive and Old Brandon Road.
While the rainout may mean the first turning of dirt for the second phase of the East Metro Parkway won’t get the hoopla it would otherwise, the start of this second leg holds huge importance for Jackson’s commercial airport. The first phase, completed in 2013, took traffic about 2 ¼ miles south of the Flowood section of Lakeland Drive before abruptly ending.
Getting to Old Brandon Road in Pearl required a detour through residential neighborhoods. Phase two of the corridor connector will take traffic to Old Brandon Road to a junction near the Homeland Security building.
Money for the $6 million extension is coming from Brandon, Pearl, Flowood, the Jackson Municipal Airport Authority, the Mississippi Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration.
The Parkway’s initial phase opened up 210 acres of airport land; phase two will allow the Airport Authority to market an additional 750 acres that run parallel to the east runway at Jackson Evers. That proximity will give companies that lease parcels owned by the airport direct access to the 8,500-foot east runway, said Carl Newman, Airport Authority CEO.
The access, he said, makes the property “a unique multi-modal environment.”
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