Published 12:00 am Friday, May 15, 2015

Beautiful aerial view of Highway 6 looking east gives little hint of what motorists will face as they travel further west. The four lanes of Highway 6 end at Bates Street in Batesville. From that intersection to Clarksdale, vehicles are funneled through one lane each way and narrow bridges.

Coalition lobbies for expedited four-lane

By John Howell

A group from Panola, Quitman and Coahoma Counties has formed the “6/69 Corridor Coalition — The Missing Link” to lobby for expedited construction on a four-lane route between Batesville and Clarksdale.

Panola Partnership CEO Sonny Simmons said that organizational meetings began in April to compile information about required environmental clearances and right-of-way acquisition along the route’s four segments.

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The counties have received assurances of support from the Mississippi Development Authority, the Delta Council and Northern District Highway Commissioner Mike Tagert.

Route construction from Batesville to Clarksdale is divided into four segments: Batesville to the Panola/Quitman County line, Panola/Quitman County line to Marks, Marks to Quitman/Coahoma County line and Quitman/Coahoma County line to U. S. 61. Total cost of the project is estimated at $230.9 million.

The Mississippi Department of Transportation has begun its project to replace the Tallahatchie River bridge on Highway 6. The bridge’s weight capacity became an issue last fall when MDOT began enforcing maximum weights posted for the structure, eliminating most truck traffic at the height of harvest season.

Simmons said as soon as organization has been completed and sufficient information gathered, the 6/69 Corridor Coalition would present its findings in Washington, seeking federal assistance to supplement state funding for construction.