Biloxi has traffic plan ready for Black Spring Break - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Biloxi has traffic plan ready for Black Spring Break

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BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Biloxi has approved a traffic plan to better control the flow of vehicles if local roadways become congested with spring break crowds this weekend.

"The plan is essentially the same plan we successfully employed several years ago," Biloxi Mayor A.J. Holloway said. "The Biloxi Police Department and area law enforcers are going to make sure that traffic keeps moving on our roadways and that emergency responders have access. That could mean limiting the lanes of travel, or, in the most extreme of measures, venting excessive traffic to outlying roadways such as Interstate 10."

Biloxi Police Chief John Miller said officers will be monitoring traffic from now through the weekend and would be prepared to implement a phased-in traffic plan on short notice.

"The primary focus of our plan is to make sure that roadways remain accessible to emergency traffic," Miller said. "The initial phases involve monitoring traffic volumes. If those volumes increase, we may have to limit traffic to one lane in each direction in some areas of Highway 90, and if those volumes increase even more, we may have to alleviate the pressure by venting traffic toward Interstate 10.

"Everything will depend on the volume of traffic that we're seeing and the flow of that traffic."

Last week, Miller met with law enforcers from cities and counties across the coast, as well as with representatives of the Mississippi Highway Patrol, the Mississippi Department of Transportation, the Mississippi Gaming Commission and the state Alcohol Beverage Control Commission. The group gathered in response to internet reports that a loosely organized "black spring break" would be held in Biloxi and on the Gulf Coast April 16-18, although no permits have been issued for the rental of public facilities.

A similar spring break event caused gridlock on U.S. 90 in 2000, and a traffic plan implemented in two ensuing years inconvenienced local motorists but succeeded in keeping traffic flowing.

In the enhanced portions of the plan, only one eastbound lane and one westbound lane will be open to traffic on U.S. 90 between Cowan Road in Gulfport to at least Rodenberg Avenue in Biloxi. The inside lanes will be for emergency vehicles only, and police will limit the number of intersections for traffic to turn northward off U.S. 90 in that area.

Last week, Biloxi Police notified businesses along U.S. 90 and in other areas that they could see increased levels of pedestrian and vehicular traffic, and they should adjust staffing accordingly.

Officers will be strictly enforcing speed limit and seatbelt ordinances; traffic tickets will be issued, and any vehicles that enter the emergency lane or impede the flow of traffic on U.S. 90 will be towed.

Police also will be strictly enforcing their respective community's vendor ordinances. All vendors -- whether in Biloxi, Gulfport, or on the sand beach - will be required to have proper permits from the respective jurisdictions. Vendors who are doing business without proper permits will be subject to arrest.

The decision on whether to employ the traffic plan will be made as conditions warrant. Authorities will alert residents through the local media, like WLOX and WLOX.com, as well as through the city's online newsletter, Bmail. You can sign up for those emails on the City of Biloxi's web site at http://biloxi.ms.us.

Copyright 2010 WLOX. All rights reserved.

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