Construction crews make way for Colony Park Boulevard. The $10.5 million project is estimated to be completed by October 2018.
Construction crews make way for Colony Park Boulevard. The $10.5 million project is estimated to be completed by October 2018.
RIDGELAND — Construction of a $10.5 million major east-west connector to U.S. 51 from I-55 and the Highland Colony Parkway envisioned for decades is finally under way.

Colony Park Boulevard to U.S. 51 is under construction just north of Ridgeland High School and will intersect near Hite B. Wolcott Park at McClellan Drive which connects to Old Canton Road.

Work began about a month ago, but in the last weeks has become evident as dirt is moved.

Officials say that this project will help the city realize its goals of an identifiable, walkable downtown area for the city as Jackson Street congestion is relieved.

Mayor Gene F. McGee said that Colony Park Boulevard, in addition to the ongoing Lake Harbour Extension, will improve the traffic flow going east and west, which has been a challenge for two decades as the city has grown.

The new road will provide better access to Ridgeland High School as well as provide a good east-west route from the Highland Colony Parkway and open the area up for more development.

The Lake Harbour extension to the Highland Colony that is under way as well will help move traffic east and west.

“This should help the retail business both west and east of I-55. Both roads will help remove traffic from Jackson Street which will allow to make it a more pedestrian-friendly downtown and that has always been our goal,” McGee said.

Community Development Director Alan Hart said that his department is “excited” about the opportunities this will open up for motorists to move from on side of town to the other across the railroad and interstate.

He said this will help relieve traffic on Jackson Street and make the area more walkable in the city’s efforts to establish a proper downtown.

“Not only do we anticipate more opportunity for development along this new road, but we also anticipate that the development along Jackson Street will see a boost,” Hart said. 

According to Hart, MDOT has also committed to rehabilitating West Jackson Street once Colony Park Boulevard is complete. They will then turn the road over to the city of Ridgeland for maintenance and permitting control. 

“Turning the road over to Ridgeland will allow city leaders to work towards implementing improvements,” Hart said.

“The plan for Jackson Street is to continue to build the area into a walkable downtown street complete with decorative crosswalks, decorative lighting, landscaping, and site furniture.”

The estimated completion date for Colony Park Boulevard is October 2018.

Colony Park Boulevard was created following the $85 million I-55 split-diamond interchange project completed by MDOT nearly three ago.