DeSoto, region expected to reap major benefits of highway

HERNANDO, Miss. (AP) - A section of Interstate 69 is to open on Tuesday in rural western DeSoto County. The highway is planned as a trade route linking Canada and Mexico.

The $137 million Mississippi section has been in the works since the late 1990s. The new stretch of highway connects Interstate 55 north of Hernando with US 61 north and the casinos of Tunica.

The highway is to enter Arkansas from Mississippi and run through south Arkansas. Officials say the road is opening at least three years earlier than it would have because Tunica County officials borrowed $53.7 million for construction.

The state will repay Tunica's debt. Tunica wanted the road to boost gambling and tourism.

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