Mississippi SR 9 Environmental Assessment

Pontotoc County, MS, United States of America
Mississippi Department of Transportation

Mississippi welcomed Toyota's decision to locate its eighth North American vehicle assembly plant in the town of Blue Springs. The Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) made a firm commitment to rapidly design and construct infrastructure improvements needed to support the plant. SR 9 was a two-lane rural highway through rolling terrain with safety concerns at numerous locations. Major improvements were needed to increase capacity, improve safety and accommodate increasing truck traffic generated by the new Toyota plant and its suppliers.

MDOT contracted with GS&P to prepare a NEPA Environmental Assessment, which required the evaluation of multiple design alternatives and many complex issues: present and future traffic patterns, impacts to the natural and built environments, sensitive cultural sites, an aggressive project schedule, and the needs of citizens and businesses in Pontotoc County and the surrounding area. The leading design alternative involved constructing approximately nine miles of new four-lane divided highway through a mostly rural area, with connections to existing interchanges at SR 6 and U.S. 78. Several new at-grade intersections, an interchange with a key local road, and other grade separations were developed to manage access to the new facility.

GS&P coordinated with various project stakeholders concerning their goals and expectations, and through the public involvement process developed an in-depth understanding of concerns expressed about the project by area citizens. After extensive study of the terrain,  GS&P staff developed alignment alternatives designed to mitigate impacts to many sensitive areas. The Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) was approved, meeting MDOT’s need for an aggressive delivery schedule and allowing the project to advance to the design phase without delay.

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