Farmers will have an easier trip when traveling between Mississippi and Arkansas when the new four-lane, interstate-standard Mississippi River Bridge opens to traffic from U.S. Highway 82 this summer.

The bridge, the largest transportation infrastructure project initiated in Mississippi in the past decade, will interconnect with a four-lane bypass scheduled to be open between the U.S. 82 Bridge near Greenville, Miss., and Highway 61 in Leland, Miss., by 2012.

“Commerce and safety will be enhanced due to these major improvements to Highway 82, and these two combined projects, the bridge and the bypass, will conclude a 25-year effort to four-lane U.S. 82 from the Arkansas state line to the Alabama state line,” said Tom Gresham, chairman of the Highways and Transportation Committee of Delta Council.

Mississippi Highway Commissioner Dick Hall has announced the official opening of the bridge will occur later this summer. The bridge project received a significant boost when then-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott infused $100 million into the project eight years ago.

“We are hopeful the state of Arkansas eventually will complete the four-laning of U.S. Highway 65 to Little Rock and U.S. Highway 82 to El Dorado, opening up four-lane commerce between Dallas and Atlanta, straight through the heart of the Mississippi Delta,” said Gresham.

Reports on progress toward the completion of the U.S. Highway 82 bypass, the four-laning of Highway 6 between Batesville and Clarksdale, and I-69 will be given at the 75th annual meeting of Delta Council at the Delta State University campus May 28,.

The Diamond Anniversary meeting of the Delta’s regional development organization will begin at 10:30 a.m. following political analyst Stu Rothenberg’s address on upcoming elections and the recognition of the Delta’s Honor Graduates — both under tents outside of the Bologna Performing Arts Center at 9 a.m. The sponsors of this year’s event include BankPlus, Jimmy Sanders, The Catfish farmers of Mississippi, The Corn Promotion Board, Cotton Inc., The Rice Promotion Board, The Soybean Promotion Board, Southern AgCredit / Mississippi Land Bank, and WABG.