State Highway Planning Drawing Local Attention

Gerald Blessey traveled from the Gulf Coast to address a legislative committee about the Mississippi Department of Transportation. Blessey doesn't agree with MDOT's proposal to build a super highway connector from I-10 to highway 90.

"Instead of a large, six-lane super highway go back to what you said in '97, using existing right of ways as much as possible," Blessey said.  "Use four-lane arterial connections, use existing intersections as much as possible - not redesigning them."

Blessey, a member of the group Concerned Citizens of Biloxi, says there's a philosophical difference between what his group and MDOT wants. And believes his proposal would also be cheaper.

"They build super highways instead of looking in urban areas at connecting with arterial major thoroughfares on a more modest level and especially the philosophy of using all new right of ways instead of existing intersections," Blessey said.

Southern Transportation Commissioner Wayne Brown disagrees with Blessey's proposal. And says MDOT'S construction ideas are based on scientific data.

"We know you build some of these roads on ground level - at the traffic doubling over 11 years on the coast - and as soon as we get them built they're going to be immediately in trouble," Brown said.

Brown also says roads like I-10, which MDOT wants to build, are better than roads like highway 49.

"Look at the character of the neighborhoods and see how the neighborhoods changed," Brown said.  "To me, the limited access, controlled access is certainly the better way to build the highway."

But Gerald Blessey says the state should remember a bigger is not always better.