Highway 7 widening project receives $160M from MS House, Senate

Published 4:31 pm Friday, May 3, 2024

In 2015, Oxford and Lafayette County residents and leaders received the bad news that the Mississippi Department of Transportation tabled the widening of Highway 7 South due to a lack of available funding.

Almost 10 years later, the Mississippi Senate and House of Representatives passed House Bill No. 1826 on Friday which will provide $160 million for the four-lanning of Highway 7 South from the Belk Boulevard intersection to the Highway 7/9 roundabout.

Last year, the Mississippi Legislators appropriated $15 million for the project that went toward relocating utilities, design work and other studies in preparation – and hopes – that the project would get fully funded this year.

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Oxford Mayor Robyn Tannehill said the city and county have waited more than 25 years for today’s announcement.

“For 25 years, citizens of Oxford and Lafayette County have recognized the need for Highway 7 to be expanded to four lanes. For 25 years, city and county officials have lobbied our state and federal officials to provide funding for the widening of Highway 7. For 25 years, there have been traffic studies, accident reports, loved ones lost, tragedy after tragedy, begging and pleading for help. For 25 years we’ve waited.”

According to Tannehill, the city’s population has grown 102% since 2000 and is projected to grow another 24% by 2030.

“Thousands of people come into Lafayette County and Oxford every single day to work and visit. And, thousands of those people arrive via Highway 7,” she said. “Highway 7 is a road of opportunity connecting people to jobs, healthcare and educational opportunities.”

With city, county and state officials working together to secure the funding, Tannehill said it is the “greatest example of teamwork our community has experienced.”

Three years ago, Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann was invited to Oxford to see for himself why Oxford and Lafayette leaders had such concerns about Highway 7. He arrived at 4:45 p.m. and watched the rush hour traffic along the highway.

“We got his attention. And, we kept on telling the story,” Tannehill said. “And, our state leaders did not quit.”

Lafayette County Board of Supervisors President Brent Larson said he was also thankful to all of the local and state officials, and everyone who supported the project.

“This investment will mean smoother commutes, enhanced safety, and a more robust transportation network for everyone,” he said.