Pass Christian Neighbors Brace For Heavy Wal Mart Traffic

People living on Hayden Drive in Pass Christian are bracing for the traffic impact of a new neighbor. Their quiet residential street is about to become one of the busiest in the city.

That's because Hayden Drive is right next door to a new Wal Mart Super Center.

Everyone agrees the store's opening next week will mean a big increase in neighborhood traffic. But there's a difference of opinion on what, if anything, should be done to accommodate the extra cars.

The grand opening of the Pass Christian Wal Mart is less than a week away. The store's main entrance is on Highway 90, where there's a new stoplight to handle the expected traffic flow. But the traffic plan for Hayden Drive is far less certain.

Hayden Drive is technically one way south bound, but there are no signs, even though the board of aldermen made Hayden a one way street months ago as part of the Wal Mart project plans. But the one way idea caused other problems.

"The people in Riviera Village, according to the way it was passed, now cannot leave Highway 90 and get into their parking lot. They have to go around Holiday and up Second Street than all the way down Hayden to get to their apartments," said Mayor Billy McDonald.

Neighbors never wanted a Hayden Drive entrance to the new Wal Mart, fearing the expected traffic. The planning commission sided with the residents.

"And then the board of aldermen overrode their decision and agreed to let Wal Mart have that entrance-exit. The residents definitely did not want it," said Alderman Howard McKissack.

The ward one alderman represents the neighbors and worked with them on a plan to handle the expected Wal Mart traffic boom. That plan was rejected.

Hayden Drive and adjoining streets are quiet now, but the shoppers are coming.

Pat Myers has lived on Hayden for 19 years.

"I feel the volume of traffic we've advised we'll have here is going to be much too heavy for this street," she said.

The board of aldermen is expected to revisit the Hayden Drive traffic issue next Tuesday, the day before Wal Mart's grand opening.

"I think the sensible thing to do is to wait, evaluate and them make a firm decision at that point," said Mayor McDonald.

Alderman McKissack fears a lack of action before Wal Mart opens will be a problem.

"My concern is that nothing will ever get done. My concern is if you go back to the two way streets, nothing will ever get done," he said.