Highway 49: Safety versus convenience

By David Elliott – bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Highway 49 is one of the busiest corridors in South Mississippi. 13 months ago the Mississippi Department of Transportation started building medians from Turkey Creek on the south end up to Dedeaux road in Orange Grove.

The project was completed eight months ago. According to Sgt. Damon McDaniel with the Gulfport Police Department, the goal was to eliminate the dangerous center turn lane.

McDaniel said, "Before you would look at the left turn lane traffic as being the largest number in the crash category. When you make a U-turn at an intersection with traffic signals that's a lot better than having to cross traffic coming at you at high speeds."

Motorists must make U-turns at various intersections. Some businesses opposed the project saying it would be an inconvenience, impacting their bottom line.

Lamar Gray of Gray Furniture was a vocal opponent. Now he understands safety concerns and is taking it in stride.

But, the medians have proven to disrupt his business. "What are you going to do. It's there. It's done. It's one of those things you have to live with. Although, it has impacted our business and our customers on a convenience level" said Gray.

Many motorists and businesses may not like it, but police said medians and U-turns like those on highway 49 are the best way to go. "When it comes down to traffic safety this is going to be what's happening in the future," said Sgt. McDaniel.

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