Smithville banking on keeping Highway 25 coming through town

by Ted Carter

Published: December 16,2011

Tags: Hwy 25, Smithville

Smithville’s business district is on track to recover from the strongest tornado to strike Mississippi in nearly half a century. But whether or not that recovery is permanent could hinge on the future routing of Mississippi Highway 25.

The Mississippi Legislature has already approved a controlled-access realignment of a stretch of the highway from Amory to Fulton that would by-pass the business district of Smithville, a one-square-mile town in Northeast Mississippi founded as a trading post in 1851. The idea is to build a full controlled-access highway like you find on an interstate, where entrances and exits are limited, said Bill Jamieson, district engineer for Mississippi Department of Transportation’s District One.

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Safety is a main benefit of controlled access with a four-lane divided highway, he said. “It’s definitely a safer route.”

That controlled-access concept is up for reconsideration in this year’s legislative session, according to Jamieson. A suggested new alignment would keep the highway routed through Smithville’s business district, likely taking the road to five lanes, he said.

“From everything I hear, they will pass it,” Jamieson said.

“We have to have the legislation changed before we can look at a new route.”

The newly proposed route is seen as a way to help Smithville continue its recovery from the catastrophic tornado that destroyed much of the Monroe County community and killed 16 townspeople April 27.

But regardless of the route chosen, the state lacks the funds for the Highway 25 project.

Under the current plan, Highway 25 would run about a quarter of a mile east of Smithville’s business district.

An interchange would likely go in at Mississippi Highway 23 and Smithville’s Hatley Road, according to Jamieson. He said a connector road would be build between the old and new Highway 25s.

State transportation planners proposed the controlled access route as a way to make the highway safer by limiting entry and exit points along it, Jamieson noted.

Tony Green, executive director of the Monroe County Chamber of Commerce, said that even though building of the new stretch of highway is years away, Smithville needs a commitment from MDOT to keep the current route. Otherwise, it’s difficult to plan for a commercial future, he said.

“Hopefully, we’ll be able to keep the main highway through downtown Smithville.”

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One Response to “Smithville banking on keeping Highway 25 coming through town”

  1. Robert Stewart Says:

    If there is no money, why debate or challenge the proposed change?

    Either way, the change should be based on the lowest cost to the state if state funds are being used to fund most of the project. I appreciate the city’s desire to do it their way, but who’s funding and costs should take priority. If the city wants to fund it fully, then let them decide how it’s going to be designed. If the state is paying most, or all, of the bill, the state should design it, in the least expensive manner.

    Additionally, safety should be a factor since it sounds like it will be a major factor in this situation.

    The reality is that few people are going to stop in town because the road runs through the business district. You want people to stop and shop the business district, make them want to. Road signs, marketing (Internet/Facebook, etc. are cheap and a lot more effective than running the street through town).

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