RIDGELAND — A $23 million extension of Lake Harbour Drive to the Highland Colony Parkway will be marked today (Thursday) with a groundbreaking ceremony.

The project that is expected to get under way immediately entails a new four-lane divided highway that will connect U.S. 51 to the Highland Colony Parkway with an at-grade railroad crossing.

The first phase begins with the construction and replacement of a box culvert underneath the Canadian National Railway, officials said.

In addition to the box culvert and the road extension, the project involves construction of a bridge over Interstate 55 and construction of a multi-use trail alongside.

“We’re really excited to be getting this project started,” Mayor Gene F. McGee said. “That’s going to be a great east-west corridor.”

McGee said when complete it will alleviate several high-traffic areas, including the congestion on Jackson Street during rush hour.

Officials estimate the project to take between 18-24 months.

The project is being funded in part with two federal grants totaling $11 million, $3.3 million in Federal Surface Transportation Program funds (administered by the Mississippi Department of Transportation), $1.5 million from a state bond bill last year, and $1 million from the Madison County Board of Supervisors.