Although supporting infrastructure projects are continuing around Toyota’s northeast Mississippi plant, the manufacturing facility is still on hold.
Construction of the three-mile road that connects Mississippi Highway 9 near the Sherman exit off U.S. Highway 78 was completed a few days after the August 12, 2009 deadline, according to MDOT engineer Bill Jamieson.
It’s the most recent update in a $43 million road project that started after Toyota’s February 2007 announcement that it would build a facility
near Blue Springs, Mississippi. State officials agreed to build new roads and update existing ones to accommodate the projected increase in use around the new plant.
The $1.3 billion plant was scheduled to begin making the hybrid Prius in late 2010. Toyota officials said the company would wait until car sales improve in the U.S. improve before opening the facility.
According to MDOT, Toyota’s delay gave them some slack in the tight construction schedule. MDOT expects to finish Toyota-related construction by the original Nov. 15, 2010, completion date.
Mississippi attracted the Toyota plant with a coalition of state and local officials working together and offering incentives. The PUL Alliance, made up of representatives from Pontotoc, Union and Lee counties, agreed to the construction a railroad bridge and tracks for the plant above Mississippi Highways 78 and 178.
Randy Kelley, director of the Three Rivers Planning and Development District in northeast Mississippi, said dirt work is nearly finished and the bridges are 95 percent completed. He said contracts have been let to lay the rail lines and expects the Three River’s Toyota-related construction to be completed in the first part of 2010, if the weather cooperates.
The opening of the plant is expected to generate approximately 2,000 permanent jobs in spin-off industries that supply parts to Toyota. Obviously the delay means these jobs won’t be pumping much-needed money into the state’s economy.