Photo: State legislators representing DeSoto County hear county officials provide their requests for the 2024 legislative session. Also pictured is incoming Supervisor Robert Foster (left), set to start his term on the county board in January. (Bob Bakken/desotocountynews.com)
DeSoto County supervisors brought their wish list to area state legislators during a meeting Monday morning in Hernando.
Several of the lawmakers heading to Jackson next month sat down with the Board of Supervisors to hear what the county hoped could be accomplished. The state Legislature gavels back into order on Jan. 2
Transportation appears to be priority number one on the county’s wish list, led by continued work on expanding I-55. More money is being sought to continue work toward improving the interstate from Goodman Road in Southaven to Commerce Street in Hernando.
While $25 million was allocated last year, officials say much more funding is needed to make the needed expansion and improvements to the interstate in the county.
“We have a huge mess there,” said Supervisor Michael Lee. “It’s very important we address this, it’s a constant issue.”
It was noted that an average of 75,000 vehicles use I-55 daily and accidents occur on the roadway almost daily.
Another thoroughfare put on the lawmakers’ radar is U.S. Highway 51, from Church Road to Green T Road, where widening a five-mile stretch is sought. The highway services a growing logistics and manufacturing corridor in DeSoto County that includes Medline, Associated Warehouse Grocers, and other entities.
“We’re getting close to a gridlock situation,” Supervisor Lee Caldwell said about the traffic on U.S. Highway 51 in that area.
A third roadway where county officials want to see improvements is state Highway 305 between Church Road and Byhalia Road. That’s where expansion to five lanes is requested. If not that, then a turn lane at Cedar Creek Drive would help decrease traffic jams.
“There are several dangerous intersections on that road,” said Supervisor Jessie Medlin about state Highway 305, pointing out there is now increased school traffic in the Lewisburg and Cockrum areas and companies like FedEx are using the road as a connector to and from their facilities to I-269.
Transportation was not the only area covered during the meeting. County officials look to see increased trial court funding, more funding for the district attorney’s office, and other areas. Another request that has been ongoing is to allow sheriff’s deputies to operate radar in unincorporated areas to reduce speeding on roadways. It was pointed out that Mississippi and Pennsylvania are the only states that don’t have that provision.
Supervisors also asked for legislation that allows for residents to have a greater voice in the matter of annexation, a topic that became a subject of contention in the most recent annexation of land by the city of Olive Branch.