EDWARDS, Miss. —
The lottery kicked off one year ago and since then business has been booming.
“It’s great that we are going to hit $500 million in our first full year of operation,” said Tom Shaheen, president of the Mississippi Lottery Corp.
During the first fiscal year, the state collected $70 million to help fix roads and infrastructure. Transportation Commissioner Willie Simmons said that money was immediately put to use.
“We took those $70 million and for the most part, used it for pavement projects, projects that hadn’t been done in over 20 years,” Simmons said.
Shaheen said in his more than two decades of experience running lotteries, this is the fastest he has ever seen a state put lottery money to use.
“That’s what makes what we do great. It is not us just selling lottery tickets, it is the states using the money and using it quickly and people get to see it,” Shaheen said.
More than a dozen road projects are currently underway in the Central District. Contract to do the paving and milling work have been awarded to six different companies totaling nearly $10.5 million, mostly in rural areas. Simmons said those road improvements will help the state grow.
“If we are going to have the kind of highway system that gets (drivers) where they need to be in a timely and efficient and economical way and is going to get our citizens a safe way to where they need to be, and have some kind of infrastructure where we grow this state economically, we have to invest in it,” Simmons said.
Folks who live in places like Edwards, where lottery money improved a 2-mile stretch of Route 467 to Highway 22 and Utica Street, said to them the lottery was long overdue. The price tag for the project was nearly $930,000.
In the Central District, there are also projects in Holmes and Yazoo counties totaling more than $3.9 million. Projects that wouldn’t happen without the lottery money.
The state already has plans for more improvements after the next allotment of lottery money has been received.