|By Billy Davis
The long-planned strategy to improve traffic flow in Batesville will be unveiled in two weeks at a meeting conducted by the Miss. Department of Transportation (MDOT).
MDOT engineers will disclose their choice between three plans ? bypasses that swing south of the city limits or a widening of Hwy. 6 West ? at the Tuesday, December 20, meeting.
The event, which is open to the public, is scheduled for 4 p.m. at the MDOT lab building in Batesville.
A similar meeting is planned for December 19 in Marks.
The coming changes to Batesville, whatever they are, will unfold as part of a larger MDOT plan to widen the two-lane thoroughfare between Batesville and Clarksdale.
In addition to those changes, a much larger project will also unfold west of Panola County in the Delta counties: Interstate 69, which will stretch 1,600 miles from Canada to Mexico when completed.
The I-69 project is divided into 32 separate projects from Texas to Michigan. Four of those projects are taking place in Mississippi, and one of the four will put I-69 through Tunica, Bolivar and Coahoma counties.
The future presence of I-69 west of Panola County is expected to bring heavy traffic through the Batesville/Highway 6 corridor, especially commercial trucks, making traffic improvements to Panola County an essential part of the future I-69 plan.
(For more information about I-69 in Mississippi, visit ).
The MDOT announcement comes after more than 100 people viewed maps of the possible bypass routes and aired their opinions in an October, 2004, public meeting.
"We’ve gone through the whole process and now the public will be informed of the situation," Jesse Stewart, assistant district engineer for MDOT’s construction department, said of the coming announcement.
MDOT considered three alternatives for Batesville, two varying bypass routes and the widening of Highway 6 through Batesville.
The bypass routes are plans "B" and "C" while the route through the city is "alternate E."
If state officials choose the bypass, both alternate "B" and "C" would take the same route from Hwy. 6 East to Interstate 55, crossing Eureka Road at Will Road and continuing to a new interchange on I-55 between Eureka and Shiloh roads.
Traveling west from Shiloh, the bypass routes differ from there.
"B" would go west toward Hwy. 35 with the interchange near Shiloh, crossing northwest through Farrish Gravel Road and tying into Highway 6 west of North Delta School.
While also crossing I-55 near Shiloh, "C" would cross Hwy. 51 just south of the Pope-Courtland water tower and travel through an interchange located between existing highways 51 and 35.
From there it would cross existing Highway 35 near First Assembly of God Church, also crossing Farrish and back into Highway 6 near North Delta.
The "C" plan would also include a new, relocated Highway 35 route.
The railroad overpass at highways 6 and 35 will also be improved regardless of MDOT’s plans for Batesville traffic, MDOT engineers have said.
Regarding possible bypass locations through homes, yards and pastures, Stewart stressed that the current mapping is only an estimate of the thoroughfare’s expected path.
"This is where the route will travel in approximate terms," Stewart said, "not how many feet it will be from your front porch."
After MDOT discloses its plans in the coming weeks, the next step in the project is survey and design work, the engineer said.