EFFORTS BY Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott of Mississippi have allowed work to be accelerated on a new four-lane U.S. 82 bridge in Greenville, as well as providing funds for planning and design to begin on the "Great River Bridge" - a part of the Interstate 69 project.

The Transportation Appropriation bill included $100 million for the new four-lane U.S. 82 bridge that connects Washington County, Mississippi, and Chicot County, Arkansas. The existing two-lane bridge, which has been declared a navigation hazard, will be replaced with a $200 million four-lane structure 3,000 feet south of the existing structure.

Pre-construction work on the bridge is already underway, and it is estimated the new structure could be complete within the next five years.

"Senator Lott's efforts in securing this level of funding for the U.S. 82 Bridge replacement will make this project move forward at an unprecedented construction schedule," said Delta Council President Kenneth Hood of Gunnison. "This bridge crossing has been a top priority for Delta Council, the city of Greenville, our regional and state public officials, and the Mississippi Department of Transportation, and we are glad that this project is on a fast track."

The bill also contains $8 million for planning and design work on the "Great River Bridge", which is to be built across the Mississippi River in the Scott area to the Arkansas City/McGehee, Arkansas, area. The "Great River Bridge" project is eventually scheduled to become part of the Interstate 69 proposal, which will link Indianapolis to Houston, Texas, and traverse through Northwest Mississippi.

Lott has continually said that he is committed to seeing both bridges built as soon as possible. "This is not an either-or proposition," Lott said. "Our two states (Mississippi and Arkansas) vitally need both bridges which will benefit one of the poorest areas in the nation."