West County Line road project nears completion
A straight shot down County Line Road to and from Tougaloo could bring development to the area as an $8 million realignment of the Canadian National Railroad nears completion, officials are hoping.
While a large part of the land north of County Line in the area bounded by I-55 and I-220 around Tougaloo College is in Madison County, it is in the city of Jackson.
The project that has been in the works for decades is expect to be completed next month weather permitting, a city of Jackson spokesperson said.
“We are getting ready to open it up to traffic in early June,” said Michelle Atoa, Jackson communications director.
The crossing at Tougaloo Village Road, the former West County Line Road, will eventually be closed.
The project realigned 6,300 feet of the Canadian National Railroad in order to create the roadway underpass.
Phase 1A, completed in 2009, made improvements to West County Line Road and Richmond Grove Road west of the CN railroad, including a roadway bridge over a realigned White Oak Creek and a traffic signal at Tougaloo College entrance.
The current project nearing completion is Phase 1B that began in 2016 and includes relocating the railroad and three railroad bridges and connecting to U.S. 51 and East County Line Road.
“Once West County Line Road is open, we will close the old West County Line Road, now called Tougaloo Village Road, and remove the railroad crossing there,” said Robert Lee, Jackson traffic engineer.
“We will close that up, pull the tracks up, regrade it to get rid of that hump over the tracks … and then put the road back together where the railroad crossing was.”
Lee said that portion of work should be completed within 30 days after beginning, weather permitting.
“It is only a little bit of road. It isn’t a lot,” Lee said.
Not only will opening the West County Line Road connection improve traffic flow in the area. It also will open the Tougaloo area up for better access, Lee said.
“The area west of the Canadian National Railroad did not enjoy the commercial growth similar to the 55 corridor in the last half of the 20th Century as the city moved,” Lee said.
“By putting in four-lane, by getting rid of the railroad crossing, what we want longterm is to help better position the Tougaloo community for growth of both commercial, residential and the college from here on.”
Also included in the project are sidewalks and shared-use trails, Lee said.
“We will be making the pedestrian connection across the tracks as well,” Lee said. “We are going ahead and putting in a short section and trail while we have got all this work underway.”
Lee said once the pedestrian portion of the project is complete, people can walk from Tougaloo to downtown Jackson on sidewalks.
“We will have continuously, either a sidewalk or a shared-use path from Tougaloo to downtown,” Lee said.
“This project and then our other State Street job that we just wrapped up with the big construction through Fondren completed those missing pieces of the sidewalk. Some of it has still got some work to do, but that is something I like to tout is that you can walk about 7 miles and be on a sidewalk the whole time.”
The project is funded in part by an $8 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) discretionary grant program through the U.S. Department of Transportation for road, rail, transit and port projects.
A sliver of land along the interstates near Greater Richmond Grove Missionary Baptist Church on Richmond Grove Road is unincorporated.