Makeover planned for busy, dangerous Gautier road

GAUTIER, MS (WLOX) - A very busy and dangerous road in Gautier is getting multi-million dollar makeover. Gautier leaders said for at least 15 years the city has worked to get funding to improve Martin Bluff Road, but to no avail.

At least 4,000 drivers keep Martin Bluff Road bustling with traffic daily.

"There are cars coming and going both ways constantly," resident Carla Beard said.

Carla Beard's church sits on the narrow two lane road.

"It can be a headache."

Sandra Mitchell agrees. She works a few blocks away at Martin Bluff Elementary.

"We have over 450 students at Martin Bluff, and seven buses, and traffic is terribly congested. Anytime you try to get in and out it is bumper to bumper," Mitchell said.

Gautier leaders said they've now acquired the state, federal and local funds to widen the road and add turning lanes.

"What we plan on doing is adding a center turn median for probably a mile and a half to reach up to the school up from Gautier/Vancleave Road that will separate the traffic and make it a little it safe," Public Works Director Dennis Reeves said. "We are also going to need to acquire some right away on north-side of the road, which is going involve buying some houses that have driveways that directly back into traffic, which is never a good thing."

The project also includes building sidewalks along with curbs and gutters.

"We do have quite a bit of accidents on Martin Bluff, but it is a very narrow road and it is one that has needed attention for a long time," Mayor Tommy Fortenberry said.

Gautier residents said any improvements will be welcomed.

"We have grown quite a bit on the street, and I think widening it in any fashion will give us some relief," said Beard.

City leaders told WLOX they're confident this Martin Bluff project will happen, but they admit it won't be overnight. They said if the process runs smoothly, the city will go out to bid on the project by early next summer, and construction will start by 2014.

Earlier this month, Gautier held a public meeting about the road plans and received nine completed comment forms; one person was against improvement plan. The city is now waiting to get the green light from the Federal Highway Administration before moving forward with the project.

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