MDOT is in the process of using design-build for the 4-lane upgrade of SR 9 from SR 6 in Pontotoc to US 78 (Future I-22) in Sherman (a significant portion of it will be new terrain). The presence of the Toyota plant is apparently giving them a sense of urgency. The project is to be completed by Dec. 31, 2012
the article mentions a 2011 legislative review that is necessary for the Mississippi 9 upgrade to proceed. The article mentions that the section north of Sherman is controversial.
Last Sunday, Mississippi legislature approved a measure that sets aside approximately $40 million for 4-laning MS 9 north of Future I-22 (the design-build project mentioned above is south
of Future I-22). It still seems to be controversial:http://www.nems360.com/view/full_story/12525075/article--422-9M-bond-bill-ap%20proved?instance=home_news_1st_left
"...The bond proposal contains $50 million to improve highways for economic development with $40 million of that total presumably to four-lane state Highway 9 near the Toyota plant at Blue Springs to state Highway 348 north of the plant.
In the House, some argued the four-laning was not needed, but was “a pet project” of Gov. Haley Barbour. Rep. Steve Holland, D-Plantersville, said the 18-wheelers going from the Toyota plant north already could travel four-lane highway on U.S. 78 and 45 and the distance would not be much farther.
Holland said the four-laning was destroying “some of the most pristine country in Northeast Mississippi” and was not being requested by Toyota officials. Holland said other highways in Northeast Mississippi, such as U.S. Highway 15, needed four-laning more than Highway 9 did.
In a statement Sunday night, Barbour said, “Unless Mississippians want suppliers to avoid the areas north of Tupelo and locate somewhere around Memphis or Columbus – or even worse, have existing suppliers in Kentucky or Illinois ship parts to Blue Springs – then we must improve the roads for when Toyota begins full production.”
The $1.3 billion Toyota plant is scheduled to open later this year and employ at least 1,500. At full production sometime next year, employment is expected to reach 2,000. Suppliers to the plant will hire about 2,000 workers, too.
The state provided about $300 million in bonds in 2007 to lure the automaker to Northeast Mississippi.
Last year the Legislature approved $90 million to four-lane state Highway 9 south of the plant. The effort to four-lane Highway 9 north of the plant has been more controversial..."