The opening of a major east-west connector from I-55 to Old Canton Road is being delayed by federal railroad issues.

Colony Park Boulevard, a $10.5 million major east-west connector to U.S. 51, I-55, the Highland Colony Parkway and Old Canton, was set to open in late 2018 but has since been delayed until the spring because of Canadian National Railroad. 

Jason Scott with the public affairs division of the Mississippi Department of Transportation said the section of the roadway is currently open but MDOT is waiting on CNR to put up new railroad crossings before the project can be completed. 

“We are waiting on the railroad,” Scott said. “Engineers are expecting the project to be completed in early Spring.”

Scott said it’s their understanding that the delay from the railroad stems from a larger nationwide problem resulting from new safety mandates by the Federal Railroad Administration. 

“This is not the only project in Mississippi that CNR has pulled off and they reason they have pulled off Colony Park and several other projects around the state is the shortage of signal crews,” Scott explained. “There’s a shortage because all of the railroad companies are trying to meet a deadline put to them by the Federal Railroad Administration.”

The FRA required railroad companies to implement a new technology called positive train control in an effort to prevent derailments and collisions. A deadline was set for the end of 2018, with many companies filing for extensions. 

“They are trying to meet that federal deadline on all these crossings,” Scott said.

CNR declined to comment on the Colony Park Boulevard situation. 

Construction began on Colony Park Boulevard in the fall of 2017. The road intersects near Hite B. Wolcott Park at McClellan Drive, which connects to Old Canton Road. 

Ridgeland Mayor Gene F. McGee has said that Colony Park Boulevard and the Lake Harbour Extension project will improve the east-west traffic flow in the city and relieve congestion on Jackson Street. City officials are hopeful of turning Jackson Street into an identifiable, walkable downtown area for the city. 

The first estimated completion date for Colony Park Boulevard was October 2018, but that was later pushed to November due in part to weather. 

Colony Park Boulevard was a new roadway created following the $85 million I-55 split-diamond interchange project completed over four years ago.