MDOT retiming Hwy 90 traffic lights to lessen backups

By Danielle Thomas – bio | email

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - Improvements designed to keep Ocean Springs motorists rolling may soon translate to a savings at the gas pump.

Recently MDOT adjusted the timing of the traffic signals along Highway 90. Officials say the project improves safety and saves thousands of dollars in time and fuel costs. However, drivers should not expect the changes to solve all their traffic woes.

Some drivers say if you want to get somewhere fast, then don't take Highway 90 in Ocean Springs.

"I avoid Highway 90 in because it's always so backed up," driver Janice Pratt said. "It takes you so long to get through. It's very frustrating."

To lessen that frustration, a MDOT consultant used traffic counts and turning patterns to come up with a new timing system for all the traffic signals from Washington Avenue to Highway 57.

"We've got a lot of congestion in Ocean Springs, especially after the storm," MDOT District Engineer Kelly Castleberry said. "This area has seen some growth since the storm. We're trying to time our traffic signals to where we can move motorists through."

But MDOT officials say re-timing the lights can't completely prevent backups.

"It just doesn't hold enough cars based on the traffic volume," Castleberry said. "We're looking at anywhere from 35,000 to 40,000 vehicles a day that are on this section of roadway. Especially during your peak times like when school lets out or your businesses are letting off, then you have some pretty severe congestion in Ocean Springs. You just have to be a little more patient."

Drivers must also be patient as the Department of Transportation decides how it will address the issue.

"We're going to look at what capacity needs there are. Of course, Ocean Springs is kind of in a unique geographic location. You have a bayou on the north side and, of course, the ocean on the south. There are only two east-west roads. You have Highway 90 and Government Street so we're going to have to do the best that we can. We will definitely look at widening, but we'll look at other options as well," Castleberry said.

MDOT officials say they looking to adjust the timing for traffic lights on Highway 63 in Jackson County from Highway 90 to Interstate 10 and on Highway 49 in Harrison County from Highway 90 to O'Neal Road.

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