More than 30 of Madison County’s top elected and business leaders returned this week from a trip to Washington enthusiastic about the response from Mississippi’s Congressional delegation.
For the past several months, The Madison County Economic Development Authority (MCEDA), the Madison County Foundation and the Madison County Business League helped organize the trip that focused on bringing federal funds to 11 projects selected from the priority lists submitted by a number of different entities.
District 1 Supervisor and President of the Madison County Board of Supervisors John Bell Crosby was pleased with the results despite being told that funds were tight in Washington.
“I feel like although they basically told us there’s not a lot of money to give out, they were impressed to see us come up as a group from Madison County,” Crosby said. “We also felt better ourselves, going as a group and supporting projects all over hte county.”
Crosby went on to say that despite the lack of money, the participants received direction in how to go about acquiring grant money and other available federal funds.
“Even though they said there wasn’t any available money, we did ask how to do our due diligence in pursuing grants and to give us direction on that. We’re going to continue working with them to move Madison County forward.”
The funding wishlist totaled nearly $140 million, highlighted by I-55 connector roads, improvements to Hoy Road and the Reunion interchange.
Ridgeland Mayor Gene F. McGee was enthusiastic about the trip’s impact on development in Madison County.
“It was a very productive trip,” McGee said. “I believe making the trip as one body is a good idea and it was clear that our Washington delegation thought so too.”
“Everyone said it was impressive that we all came with one voice,” McGee added.
District 3 Supervisor Gerald Steen agreed that going as a unified group made a big impact on the receptiveness of Mississippi’s Congressional Delegation.
“That’s the first thing that each one pointed out,” Steen said. “They were glad we came as one instead of coming in three or four different groups. They were very appreciative.”
Steen said that the congressmen and senators made several recommendations to help move the projects forward.
“One of the main things that each one indicated is that we need to continue working together along with our highway commissioner and state elected officials,” Steen said. “We’re looking forward to working with each one of them, especially Commissioner Hall, and putting together a plan to help move Madison County forward.”
For McGee, and the city of Ridgeland, several projects were prioritized in hopes of receiving federal funding.
“The City of Ridgeland pushed for funding for the I-55 diamond interchange connector road and additional funding for the Lake Harbour extension,” McGee said. “Of course, we supported all the projects count-wide.”
The I-55 diamond interchange McGee referred to would be the Colony Park project that will eventually connect Highland Colony Parkway with U.S. 51.
The Lake Harbour Extension project involves widening and improving Lake Harbour Drive into a five-lane, east-west corridor from U.S. 51 to Northpark Drive in Ridgeland.
Other projects seeking funding included the widening of McClellan Drive and Madison Avenue, a new truck route to ease traffic in Flora, a trail system along Mississippi 22 from Canton to Flora, improvements to the West Madison Utility District sewer and water systems and a recreational park in northeastern Madison County.
By MATT STUART
Staff Writer for the Madison County Journal