North/South Road Delays Confound Coast Leaders

The north south connector road between Canal Road and the Port of Gulfport has been talked about for at least five years. On Monday, Southern District Transportation Commissioner Wayne Brown said it will be at least 2011 before it's finally built.

And he has no idea when a west Biloxi connector will come out of the ground.

When the department of transportation widens Canal Road, trucks coming off the interstate will have a quick and easy drive down to the Port of Gulfport. Getting the state to build the new road has been anything but quick and easy.

Billy Hewes sits on the Senate's transportation committee. "The private sector gets it done when there is a need," the senator said. "The public sector ought to do the same thing."

Hewes wants MDOT to live up to the promises it made last year regarding north south roads in South Mississippi. "The department reorganized with their Vision 21 program," said Hewes. "We're supposed to reprioritize." Hewes believes eight years to build Canal Road, and no timetable for the west Biloxi road indicate that the priorities aren't in South Mississippi.

When it comes to Vision 21, Hewes said, "A lot of these roads are at the top of that list. So there is no reason we can't move forward with haste on this."

In a phone conversation with the transportation commissioner, Wayne Brown told WLOX News Canal Road is on the Vision 21 priority list. And money is set aside to widen it as soon as possible.

That's not the case with the north south project proposed for west Biloxi. Brown admitted it's future is uncertain. Biloxi resident Royce Hignight wasn't surprised by that. "They're still conning people down here because they have absolutely nothing to base those projections on," Hignight said.

The former FBI agent recently sat on a committee that analyzed where the new Biloxi road should be built. "They never had the money to do what they say they want to do over there," Hignight said. "And you know you can't build a road without money."

Commissioner Brown said Vision 21 does have money for Canal Road. He expects work on that north south project to begin in three or four years.