Jackson, Gulfport named among 2017 neediest cities

Mississippi’s two largest cities are among the neediest cities in the country, a recent WalletHub study says. The study looks at more than 180 of the most populated U.S. cities. Jackson is ranked No. 5 for neediness after Detroit, Newark, Memphis and Cleveland, OH. Neediness is defined by high levels economic disadvantage, according to the study released Wednesday.

Lakeland Drive project completion should ease traffic flow

One of the busiest stretches of roadway in the state should see less congestion thanks to a part of Lakeland Drive opening all its six lanes Monday. The Highway 25/Lakeland Drive expansion project, which began construction in 2015, adds additional lanes on both sides of Lakeland stretching between Airport and Grants Ferry Roads. The project also expands a bridge over Flowood Drive and improves major intersection configurations, according to the Mississippi Department of Transportation. The Mississippi Legislature in 2014 assigned $10 million out of MDOT’s budget to the project. Byram-based Superior Asphalt Inc. started project construction in October 2015 under a roughly $36.3 million contract.

Kemper plant hearing officially postponed

The Mississippi Public Service Commission has canceled its hearing process set to begin Monday regarding the Kemper County energy facility. The announcement came on the same day state utility regulators reached an agreement with Mississippi Power Co. and other involved parties over what costs the company can recover from the fallout of its $7.5 billion-plus Kemper County energy facility project. During the nearly five-month process, the parties worked on settling the difference between what regulators thought Mississippi Power should recover and what the utility believed it should be able to charge customers, among other things. At one point, the sticking point was a $250 million difference.

State road work suspended over holiday weekend

All construction and repair work on Mississippi interstate and four-lane highways will come to a halt over Thanksgiving weekend. The Mississippi Department of Transportation is suspending all highway work from 5 p.m. Wednesday until 6 a.m. Monday in anticipation of increased holiday travel. Melinda McGrath, MDOT’s executive director, said some lanes will remain closed to protect motorists, and drivers should still slow down when approaching and traveling through work zones. “MDOT wants to make travel safe and convenient for the public this holiday weekend,” McGrath said in a statement. “While our construction crews won’t be working, we will be putting additional effort into monitoring the state’s highways to make sure everyone is able to enjoy the holiday weekend safely.”

In the meantime, MDOT said it would be monitoring state highways via its Traffic Management Center, which uses traffic cameras, congestion analysis technology, radar and temperature sensors to ensure driver safety and mobility.