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Simmons Named Mississippi Transportation Commission Chairman

Willie Simmons
Willie Simmons
JACKSON, MS — The Mississippi Transportation Commission names Commissioner Willie Simmons, Central Transportation District, as Chairman.

“It is such an honor to be elected Chairman of the Mississippi Transportation Commission at this pivotal time in our state’s transportation history,” Simmons said. “I look forward to ensuring this commission continues to move our infrastructure system in the right direction while meeting the needs of public safety and fostering economic growth in all areas of our great state.”

Simmons is entering his second term as Central District Transportation Commissioner, which covers 22 counties and a population of approximately 1 million people. He is joined by Commissioner John Caldwell, Northern Transportation District, who also enters his second term, as well as first-time Commissioner Charles Busby, Southern Transportation District.

Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) Executive Director Brad White praised Simmons’ selection. “Commissioner Willie Simmons was the right choice for Commission Chairman by virtue of his proven track record of leadership along with his deep understanding of our state’s transportation needs,” White said. “I am confident with his leadership the Commission will support MDOT staff in continuing to drive innovation, enhance our state’s infrastructure, and ensure a safer and more efficient future for Mississippi communities.”

In his first term as Central Transportation Commissioner, Simmons saw several critical projects to completion, including the $253 million, 7.5-mile reconstruction of U.S. 49 from Florence to Richland as well as the $42.3 million I-20 eastbound bridge replacement project that spans U.S. 51, I-55 south, and the Canadian National Railroad in Jackson.

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Last year, in the eastern part of his district, crews completed a $24.4 million design-build project on I-59 and I-20 in Meridian that widened heavily traveled interstate bridges over State Route 19/39 and 65th Avenue, among other improvements. In the Mississippi Delta, progress continues on a major $137 million project known as the U.S. 82 Greenville Bypass, which is expected to promote regional development and make area roads safer once complete in 2025.

Prior to being elected Commissioner in 2020, Simmons served as a Mississippi State Senator for more than 26 years. He served as Chairman of the Senate Highways and Transportation Committee during his last eight years. Under his leadership in the Senate, over $5 billion was spent throughout the state on the construction and upgrade of federal and state roads, county and municipal streets, and bridges, as well as millions of dollars on public transit, ports, railroads, airports, and other infrastructure support systems. He played an integral role on projects such as the repair of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge in Jackson and the upgrade and repair of State Route 8 in Cleveland, among others. He also served as Chairman of the Corrections Committee and Vice Chairman of the Public Health and Welfare Committee.

Simmons also served as Deputy Commissioner of Corrections prior to joining the Mississippi State Senate. Before that time, he served as a combat veteran of the Vietnam War. He is a graduate of Alcorn State University and received a Master of Science and an Education Specialist degree from Delta State University.

MDOT is responsible for providing a safe intermodal transportation network that is planned, designed, constructed, and maintained in an effective, cost-efficient, and environmentally sensitive manner.

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