‘Fracking’ leads county officials to call for highway widening

AMITE COUNTY — An increase in oilfield activity in Amite County is bringing a call for the state to four-lane Highway 24 in southwest Mississippi between McComb and Liberty.

The Enterprise-Journal reports the issue came up during a discussion of oil drilling among members of the Pike County Economic Development District board.

Amite County has voted to support a study on shale oil and gas development. The study will focus on the Tuscaloosa Shale formation in Amite, Pike and Wilkinson counties. Other local governments have been asked to join in .

The Tuscaloosa Shale is a large formation covering central Louisiana and parts of southwest Mississippi, and oil companies have been working it for months.

The work involves hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” a process that uses water, sand and other additives to free natural gas underground.

PCEDD board member James Wicker says that if fracking pans out, there will be a lot of extra traffic from Interstate 55 west to Liberty.

Wicker says he and district executive director Britt Herrin have met with Mississippi Department of Transportation officials to make the case to start four-laning Highway 24.

The state originally planned to four-lane Highway 24 to Woodville. MDOT said the state has postponed the four-laning of Highway 24 from McComb to the East Fork community until 2015. Work west of there has been indefinitely delayed.

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