Business owners frustrated with construction

By Jessica Bowman – email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) -The Raceway gas station on the west side of Highway 49 is owned by Sunny Patel.

Since construction cones divided the highway, northbound cars have been unable to turn into his business.

Patel said, "We went down about minimum 20 to 30 percent week one. Moving forward, we're expecting about 40% decline in business because of this median over here."

The construction cones are in place because of an MDOT project that's redoing the Highway 49 median.

Patel understands that the work is necessary, and unless left turn access is limited, collisions are likely.

"It was basically like a free fall ride. Anybody goes in there can collide." Patel said. "Well, just to create a left turn you're going to create all that safety. You have your median, a left turn does not mean there is going to be more accidents."

It was an accident on Highway 49 last year involving Gulfport police officer Rob Curry that led to the median changes.

Curry's death prompted Gulfport and MDOT to redesign Highway 49 traffic flow between Turkey Creek and Dedeaux Road.

Nobody questions the need for the changes. What concerns some business owners is the access they've suddenly lost to potential customers.

Owner of Choung's Garden Jamie Jiang said, "Usually lunch time, we got really busy. We can make like 200 customers but, right now we make like 60 customers. It kill my business. It's going to kill my business if they don't do anything."

Because of that comment, we contacted Gulfport councilman Ricky Dombrowski. He said Highway 49 business owners like Sunny Patel, are expected at Monday's city council meeting to ask for help from the city.

"We would like to see at least a cross road or a left turn into these businesses and not make it difficult for customers to come to us," said Sunny Patel.

Gulfport's City Council meeting will be held Monday at 2:30 p.m.

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