October 21, 2003 - Posted at 7:30pm
MISSISSIPPI COUNTY, AR -- Three studies totaling more than 2 million dollars will look into the construction of 2 bridges. One of the proposed sights is in between Osceola and Wilson in Mississippi County
"It would give truckers especially an opportunity to cross here, hit what will be another interstate loop around Memphis," said Clif Chitwood, a member of the Great River Economic Development Area.
The 'Osceola Toll Parkway' project would be a 22 mile stretch beginning in Osceola and connecting I-55 to the proposed I-69 route near Covington or Millington, Tennessee. The crossing is the narrowest point on the river from Cairo, Illinois to the Gulf of Mexico. It's also where huge power lines from utilities in Arkansas, Missouri and Tennessee connect.
One million dollars of state and federal money will pay for a study which may take more than 2 years. The main goal is to find out how much of the bridge's cost could be paid for by tolls. If it's built, the bridge would be the first toll bridge on the Mississippi River.
Michael Wilson, mayor of Wilson, added that the bridge is needed to help boost the economy in his city. Mississippi County has the highest unemployment rate in the state.
Wilson said, "We lost our biggest industry which at one time employed over 700 people. We still have one industry here which employs about 120."