Highway 7 Widening: The Road to Growth and Safety in Lafayette County

Thanks to the power of persistent community advocacy and collaborative governance, a much-needed and overdue highway project in Lafayette County is on the road again—with $175 million in funding.

After years of delays and community anticipation, the widening of Highway 7 in Lafayette County is finally set to commence—and projected to be complete in roughly three years, according to the Mississippi Department of Transportation. This significant infrastructure enhancement, long advocated for by local leaders and residents, is expected to transform daily commutes, improve safety, and bolster the region’s transportation network.

The project, which aims to expand Highway 7 South from the Belk Boulevard intersection to the Highway 7/9 roundabout, recently secured full funding through House Bill No. 1826. The bill, passed by the Mississippi Senate and House of Representatives, allocates $160 million for this endeavor, signaling a major victory for the Lafayette County community. This critical, major funding, adds to $15 million Mississippi legislators appropriated last year for the project, used for prep work including design work and relocation of utilities.

A Community Victory

Brent Larson, president of the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors, expressed his enthusiasm about the project’s green light.

Brent Larson and Mayor Robyn Tannehill have worked towards this infrastructure improvement with other local leaders.

“The expansion of Highway 7 will alleviate congestion and greatly enhance safety on a stretch of road that is one of the primary paths into, out of and through town for residents of Lafayette County—as well as citizens of neighboring counties and beyond who work, shop and spend time here,” Larson said. “Local and state officials, along with the unwavering support of Lafayette County residents, are making this project come to life.”

The necessity of widening Highway 7 became apparent back in 2015 when the Mississippi Department of Transportation had to table the project due to funding shortages. This decision was met with disappointment from the local community, which had been experiencing growing traffic demands and safety concerns.

Nearly a decade later, the legislative breakthrough came as a relief. 

“The bidding for the construction contracts is being prepared, ensuring that as soon as the funds are available on July 1, work can commence without delay,” Larson said. “I’ve been informed that significant construction activity is expected to start a year from now, and the project itself will span approximately 18 to 24 months.”

Impacts and Expectations

The expansion of Highway 7 is not just a traffic solution; it’s a strategic enhancement of the region’s infrastructure. By facilitating smoother and safer travel, the project is anticipated to positively impact local businesses and enhance the quality of life for residents. 

As work progresses, residents and commuters in Lafayette County can look forward to a future where road travel is less congested and significantly safer. The success of this project could also set a precedent for addressing similar infrastructure needs in other parts of the state.