A giant step toward connecting Jones County to population centers west of us is now a possibility with the strong support of Congressman Steven Palazzo as he co-sponsors a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives that would designate I-14 along the route of Highway 84.

 Citing the desire for a larger piece of the nation’s commerce, an organization called the Gulf Coast Strategic Highway Coalition is working to get this exciting designation through Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi that would roughly parallel I-10 and I-20 and be almost in between those two interstates.

 Mississippi’s section would run from Natchez to Laurel. It already has the support of the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT), the Jones County Board of Supervisors, mayors of the cities here and many of our State Legislators and our federal elected officials.

 There is a precedent for this in north Mississippi, where I-22 now runs from Memphis, through Tupelo, and into Birmingham. That thoroughfare was originally Highway 78, but local, state and federal officials convinced the national powers-that-be to give it the interstate designation.

 While it will likely take several years to get this done, officials in all three states seem to like the odds and believe the timing is right to get a bill introduced to begin the multi-year process. That’s where we especially appreciate Congressman Palazzo’s leadership as a co-sponsor since he had long worked toward assisting Jones County in economic development efforts.

 I-14 could become a major artery to bring commerce into Jones County and could aid the distribution of goods for our industries. When we look to our future, this tri-state coalition that would gain I-14 as an interstate would brighten the outlook for generations to come.

Ross W. Tucker, President/CEO

Economic Development Authority of Jones County

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