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Mayor: ‘Highway 45 bypass is not dead’


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PDF file File: Proposed area for Highway 45 bypass

Kristin Mamrack



Steps are being taken to bring a long-awaited bypass to Columbus. 


City officials have tentatively scheduled a public hearing on the proposed Highway 45 bypass project for early March. 


During the hearing, residents will have an opportunity to view maps of two routes proposed for the bypass, which will be about eight miles long, with four miles to be located in the city and county each. 


Each of the two routes, which vary only slightly, begin at Waters Truck and Tractor and end at the north gate of Columbus Air Force Base on Highway 45 North. 


"I just want the citizens of Columbus to know the Highway 45 bypass is not dead," Columbus Mayor Robert Smith said last week. "It''s still alive and we''re continuing to work with our engineers and Mississippi Department of Transportation to bring this to fruition, even though it''s a long-range plan. 


"We hope, after the hearing, citizens can observe more progress being done on the bypass," he added. 


The project is not expected to be completed until 2020. After the hearing, the route will be finalized by early June, when preliminary work, including surveys, land acquisition and environmental assessments will begin. 


Construction likely will begin within three years, said Smith. 


The bypass project was initiated in 2003; previous public hearings provided input which narrowed routes under consideration from six to the two routes which will be presented to the public in March. 


In late February, city officials will travel to Washington, D.C. to seek additional funding for the project, which is expected to cost between $90 million and $100 million to complete. 


Funding for the project, identified as a "four-lane urban expressway," also has been received through previous appropriations acts, including $750,000 in 2004, $3.4 million in 2005 and $3.6 million in 2006. 


Traffic on Highway 45 North, which currently is at capacity, serving more than 27,000 vehicles per day, is expected to increase to more than 42,000 vehicles per day by 2020. 


City officials noted the bypass significantly will eliminate passenger and truck traffic through a highly commercialized area and improve safety issues. 


"Anyone living in Columbus will be impacted," Smith said, encouraging residents to attend the hearing, offer input and voice any concerns.




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Reader Comments

Article Comment Joe Bush commented at 2/11/2010 12:18:00 PM:

There could be a lot more capacity on 45 N, especially if lights were adjusted to account for different traffic patterns at different parts of the day. For example, there's no reason for the light at Wal-Mart to cycle 24/7 when after 11pm it could easily be triggered by traffic on the Wal-Mart access road, as other lights on 45 N are already. Those other lights could also revert to regularly timed lights during morning and evening peak hours to keep traffic on 45 N moving instead of forcing people into a pattern of having to stop at 7 or 8 lights to get from 82 to Bluecutt. Another example of the capricious nature of our traffic lights would be the timing of the blinking yellow lights late-night on 5th downtown at 2nd and 3rd Ave. and a 24/7 timed light one block later at 5th Ave. Why? All three should switch to blinking yellow at the same time. Lights on Main St. and College are also poorly managed, often necessitating a stop at each intersection instead of being able to drive all the way through downtown with only one or two stops.

I don't know who is responsible for the abysmal management of traffic signals on 45 N or on Main St. But I do wonder if they have any formal qualifications to be a traffic engineer and if they actually spend much time driving our roads and thinking about the experience from the perspective of the end-user. It seems to me that a little bit of smart planning could go a long way to easing frustrations for the next 10 years while we wait for the bypass to be completed.


Article Comment Matt commented at 2/11/2010 2:51:00 PM:

Where did this come from? There's been no mention of the 45 bypass for years. Now all of a sudden we get more "public meeting" and more drawings, studies etc? Correct me if I'm wrong, didn't Jeffrey Rupp do most of this already. When he left office I never heard anything else about this. Yes, I admit I might be mistaken, but this seems like another "proposal" that'll never take place. Examples-new convention center, new sportsplex, new downtown hotel to replace the Gilmer, new mall? See where this is headed. I hope not, but with Columbus's past history I wouldn't hold my breath.


Article Comment gogetum commented at 2/11/2010 4:58:00 PM:

This is something that could have been done by Travis Childers with some of the trillion dollar stimulus joke. Why didn't he help us with the by pass??? I think he should be replaced asap, like the next election!!!


Article Comment Slate commented at 2/11/2010 6:16:00 PM:

This is excellent news, the bypass has the full support of MDOT and will be another boost for the Jewel.


Article Comment marv commented at 2/11/2010 6:24:00 PM:



Article Comment Nobody commented at 2/11/2010 8:20:00 PM:

Wow. That's a lot of money to spend screwing something up. All a bypass will do is destroy businesses on 45 who will eventually be forced to move to the bypass. Imagine the great things that could be done downtown with $100 million.


Article Comment ETG commented at 2/11/2010 9:30:00 PM:

Joe, I agree with your comments about the traffic lights in Columbus. They could be done a LOT better. One of the worst is at Lehmberg and Warpath. Lemhberg is one of the most heavily traveled roads in town, yet motorists on Warpath are given equal time, even when there are no cars on Warpath. At one time there was a sensor installed on that road, to trigger the light ONLY when a car was actually waiting on Warpath. Last year, though, that sensor was apparently deactivated. Come on, traffic department!! Reactivate this crazy sensor so things will run a little smoother!!!!


Article Comment c-mon commented at 2/12/2010 8:19:00 AM:

To Nobody: Who really cares about downtown? That area is not going to help Columbus grow like it needs to. Their wasting their time trying to keep the convention center there (stuck in a hole with limited access, no real room for growth, and absolutely no room for parking), wasting our money on putting a soccer/City park there for the ghetto to destroy! People with real vision for the city realize the growth for Columbus is west of the river. But the cry babies for downtown want to make you eat out of their greedy hands just like its been for the last 100 yrs. So what is 20 more years. They will just keep crying and we all will continue to give in. They will always be the ones holding Columbus back, with no real vision for growth, nor proper infrastructural planning. Say hello to the Columbus Country Club in demise. Many of the same people with their hands in Downtown.


Article Comment fred commented at 2/12/2010 11:35:00 AM:

@c-mon...I agree. The cry babies want people to shop at their stores with trash and trinkets. Also the TOTALLY useless Mississippi Main Street Association would also cry and complain, but I guess that at least makes them feel important.

The same people have been calling the shots in Columbus for too long now. It is these people that are indeed holding this city back and keeping decent businesses out of town. The last thing this town needs are check cashing businesses, dollar stores or more no-name restaurants that will close within a year. Let's face it people hate Belk and University Management restaurants that basically serve the same menu at all of their dining establishments. Lots can be done west of the river as soon as these people are either ran out of town or stood up to.


Article Comment Thom Geiger commented at 2/12/2010 12:16:00 PM:

The last I heard about the bypass was during the Rupp administration and the primary justification for the western route was the many trucks traveling Hwy 45N that haul jet fuel to the airbase. Now I read that the bypass will start at Hwy 82 and route to the west of Hwy 45N.
Don't those fuel trucks come from Hwy 69S? That was according to JR, so how will they get to the bypass on the west side of the city? Won't they pass Hwy 45N to get there or have the trucks started using a different route to get to Columbus? Anybody?


Article Comment Common Sense commented at 2/12/2010 12:21:00 PM:

So right Fred, c-mon and Change: The convention center should have move to the old Sack-n-Sav (now Spiller) years ago. Perfect highway access, great size, lots of parking and easy accessibility. It would have encouraged motel/hotel growth and even though Chili's and Ryans is there it would have made room to attract other business' at that intersection and eliminate some of that junk that is currently taking up prime real-estate. A "proper" By-pass as Change called it connecting directly to Hwy 45 S at the Macon exit would benefit the industrial trucking traffic and commuter traffic the best, without the unnecessary "dog leg" at Waters Truck and Tractor. The ONLY reason they want the possible new By-pass to come out at Waters T&T intersection is to pacify the Downtown Cry Babies as C-mon noted. Until the "West is Won" on that side of the river Columbus is NOT going to GROW like it should be.


Article Comment giterdone commented at 2/12/2010 12:43:00 PM:

@TG: now that Lowndes County is having tremendous industrial growth west of the river and more expected, connecting a bypass from the Air Base area to 45 S at Macon exit would benefit the economy in the long run the best. Vision in the "crystal ball" shows after the correct bypass is connected to Hwy 45 S the next best plan would be to swing a bypass Loop from 45 S ( near Talley Defense) over to Hwy 69 then later up to Hwy 82 E but no one planning the future in Columbus can see that far ahead yet?? Also more than just Jet Fuel would benefit from a real bypass. Aerospace parts, helicopter parts, engine parts, scrap metal parts in-coming and out-going industrial supplies would be best utilized by transporting on a high-rise bypass connecting 45 S to 45 N at this point in the projections. Again like others have said, current city planners don't see the correct path for proper progress of the entire county. Thus has been evident with all past decisions so far. There is a bad need for a bypass but it needs to be done correctly or not at all.


Article Comment TD commented at 2/12/2010 8:14:00 PM:

To Common Sense
Go to Google Earth on your computer. Look at the geography -- like the river, lakes and wetlands. There is no way to physically build another bridge over the Tenn-Tom. Just too many wetlands and wide lakes in the upper pool. Besides the environmentalists wouldn't allow it anyway.

Linking the 45 by-pass at Waters Trucking is the most logical place -- not because of proximity to the downtown area. That route uses the existing US-82 bridge over the Tenn-Tom.

No matter what route they use, it's going to cost a lot of money -- my taxes. Building another bridge anywhere over the Tenn-Tom only adds to the cost.


Article Comment Common Sense commented at 2/16/2010 1:00:00 PM:

I have looked at Google Earth, I am not talking about crossing at Columbus Lake or any great span like that. But moving over from Waters T&T to cross at the Macon exit area. I realize a bridge cost. But that dog leg at Waters T&T is a junction to cause wrecks and I believe to benefit the downtown cry babies.


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