GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Gulfport has a new target date to start widening Dedeaux Road after officials said they encountered some speed bumps in trying to buy right of way. Originally, phase one was supposed to start this summer. However, so far the city has only reached deals with about a third of the phase one property owners.
More than 300 children from infants to high school seniors attend Christian Collegiate Academy, which is on Dedeaux Road. The school doesn't run buses, so early mornings and mid-afternoons there is a backup of cars on the road as parents drop off and pick up their children. The school developed a traffic flow plan through its parking lot to get more drivers off the road while awaiting students to be released from class.
"We pull them in on the west side entrance, but we have to run two lanes when we get around the corner of the building," said Principal Carol Robert. "That helps it from backing up too much once they can pull into two lanes. We also have teachers that call the students down, which makes it a little faster. Puts them in the car faster and out of the traffic and they're not backed up on the road."
School leaders hope a wider Dedeaux Road will ease the backups. Phase one will widen Dedeaux from two lanes to five extending from Three Rivers Road east to Dede Drive, and Highway 605 west to the Fire Station.
Gulfport needs to buy a portion of land from 31 property owners, but officials said they are not buying any buildings in phase one. Officials said 27 owners have been given offers and of that, 10 have accepted.
As of Friday, people who work or live along Dedeaux Road have a better idea of what the expanded road will look like. Surveying crews put out stakes to mark where the sidewalks will be. Some people believe a wider Dedeaux Road will mean greater safety for those who drive it.
Roberts said, "With children that's one of our concerns is the safety of our parking lot and the safety of the traffic coming in and out and parents as well, and I think having more lanes would improve that greatly."
Not so many fender benders out there. Bumper to bumper. Gulfport officials say they are hoping to acquire all the land they need and start phase one construction in March.