"It was almost two years ago when this administration, the mayor and Board of Alderman, granted MDOT the authority for this bypass," said Canton's mayor, Dr. William Truly (left) in a speech at the opening. "It unclutters our square. It saves our streets. It makes our citizens safe. It protects our children from injuries downtown."
Canton, which is known for its historic square used in movies and over a decade being lit up for the Victorian Christmas, sits on Hwy. 16, which is a main east-west route. The highway, though mostly two-lane, is the main truck route from Yazoo, through Canton, Carthage and Philadelphia. Standing on Canton's square can give you a scare if an 18-wheeler turns in front of you because the trucks often end up using part of the sidewalks for a wide turn. The stench of chicken trucks can also knock you back as they pass by going to and from Leake County chicken farms and processors.
Though Truly said the city granted MDOT the authority to build the bypass, it was more like an agreement between the two.
"They got us involved and asked us if we would participate and help 'em and we did," said Central District Transportation Commissioner Dick Hall. "We worked out a memorandum of understanding between the city and MDOT. The proposed plan was to alleviate the inadequate capacity along state Route 16 and 22 in downtown Canton. The bottom line was to get those 18-wheelers out of the historic area."
MAYOR TRULY'S SPEECH
Hall said the city will now get the responsibility of maintaining Hwy. 16 in the city limits.
The $19 million project, will also mean a new route for the ever-growing Nissan plant. The plant was looking for more road capacity, especially after several new lines were announced in the last year. That means more workers and more trucks.
"As Nissan celebrates our ten years in Mississippi, we are proud of our relationship with MDOT and the joint efforts toward the progress of this state," said Nissan Human Relations Director Jeffrey Webb. "This roadway will provide a quicker commute for our employees traveling to Canton from the northwest area. Secondly, this will improve transportation routes for our suppliers."
Madison County Supervisor Paul Griffin also pointed out that the bypass will provide quicker access to the new River Oaks Hospital located near I-55.