Group will not give up on fighting port expansion

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The STEPS Coalition and several other community organizations are continuing to oppose the multi-million dollar expansion of the State Port at Gulfport.

A Monday morning press conference sponsored by groups ranging from the NAACP to the North Gulfport Community Land Trust questioned the expansion.

The event expressed concerns about the $481 million project.

"Five times the number of trucks begin to go through this community on the connector road. Once it's built from Canal Road to Highway 49, all of that noise, all of that pollution will be put through the community," said Howard Page with the STEPS Coalition.

Donald Allee, Executive Director of the Port of Gulfport, said the plan considers the concerns of the community.

"What will more ships, more cargo, more trucks, what impact that will have on air and water quality and noise? We're as concerned about those items as the public is," Allee said.

Community Activist Rose Johnson said she's worried about the environmental impact on specific neighborhoods in the path of the expansion.

"Whether it's intentional or unintentional, how it has been engineered, the majority of the pollution has been concentrated in North Gulfport and minority neighborhoods," Johnson said.

The group has also questioned the transparency of the expansion. They say the public has been shut out of discussions regarding the project.

To that charge, Allee said, "I find that hard to believe. I know how much effort the port has put into keeping the public engaged."

The expansion is moving forward while the STEPS Coalition and other groups say they will continue to monitor the project.

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