Get ready for heavy traffic congestion on Hwy 49

By David Elliott – bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The Mississippi Department of Transportation has started a project to build medians on a dangerous stretch of Highway 49. The project covers two and a half miles, from Turkey Creek on the south side to Dedeaux road on the north end.

"Anybody who has driven through this area knows how dangerous it can be," Project Engineer Chuck Starita said.

The idea is to replace the middle turn lane, that has historically posed a danger to motorists driving in either direction, with a series of medians.

"Right now people only have a stripe in the road to direct them. We'll dig out the existing roadway and fill it with rock and asphalt and eventually build a curb," Starita explained.

The project just happens to coincide with the upcoming holiday shopping period. Motorists will have to put up with cones, detours and lane closings between now and Christmas.

Gulfport police plan to be proactive on the Friday after Thanksgiving, traditionally the biggest shopping day of the year.

"We'll have plenty of extra manpower out and override intersections if we have to," Lt. Brian Smith promised. "People need to be patient with us and with each other."

The median project is being done in four phases and is expected to be completed by June 2010. Lt. Smith said it may be inconvenient in the short term, but will make for a safer highway 49 in the long run.

"Overall, it will be better for everyone."

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