MDOT Hears Complaints About Final Canal Road Route - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

04/29/03

MDOT Hears Complaints About Final Canal Road Route

The transportation commissioner called the news conference to let people know the Federal Highway Administration approved the path of the north south road. Wayne Brown said the Canal Road project would be an elevated roadway similar to I-110, with construction begining in five years.

Afterward, Brown took questions from some angry North Gulfport residents, who said the new road was being ram-rodded down their throats.

Martha Snelling lives on Rippy Road near Turkey Creek. She came to the Wayne Brown news conference because she wanted to fight for her neighborhood's survival.

"The black community totally objects to every piece of new development going on in South Mississippi coming through every black neighborhood there is," she told the transportation commissioner.

Snelling was one of about a dozen people who vocally opposed the final map of the Canal Road widening project.

Another outspoken critic was Richard Marsh.

"Everything comes through the poor black community," he said.  

Marsh is one of the North Gulfport civic leaders who's trying to protect the community from what he calls unwanted development.

When Brown told the group that MDOT had received plenty of community input before it chose the final Canal Road route, Marsh shot back and said, "Nobody came to our community and asked us what impact this is going to have on our community. Nobody."

Brown didn't hesitate to respond.

"I disagree with that," he said. "Certainly there are some that have objected. But let me well assure you, there are a great many people that haven't objected, but have approved and are approving of this plan."

Commissioner Brown kept pointing out that state legislation required MDOT to build a new north south road near the Canal Road interchange. And it required the wider road to connect Interstate 10 and the Port of Gulfport.

So for the last six years, routes have been proposed and public hearings have been held. The media presentation was the culmination of that process.

"We certainly feel in this case we have met time and time and time again with the local people to work with them," Brown said. "Now it's time for all of us to continue to work together."

MDOT will schedule meetings with people in the path of the new road, to explain what happens next.

The Canal Road connector is a $275 million project. The early estimate is that cars could be riding on it in eight years.

by Brad Kessie

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