OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - Every day, hundreds of motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians use Park Road in the Davis Bayou area of the Gulf Islands National Seashore in Ocean Springs. All the traffic has raised concerns about the safety of those who use the roadway.
Park officials invited the community to come out Thursday evening to discuss alternatives to reduce traffic in the area. Dan Brown, the Gulf Island National Seashore Superintendent, says the park community continues to grow and that has raised safety concerns.
"The park is really important to the community, and it's important to us that motorists and bicyclists and pedestrians to all be able to safely enjoy the park," Brown said.
One option being considered is causing a lot of controversy among residents in the area. That's closing down VFW Road, which would cut off quick access to Park Road for several neighborhoods and reduce traffic going to and from Highway 90.
It would also mean people in those neighborhoods would have to take a lengthy detour to get to the highway. Mark Faircloth is a cyclist that uses Park Road almost every day. He says he's not sure if the trade off would be worth it.
"The biggest problem I see is after five in the afternoon when that going home traffic is trying to cut off Highway 90, and make that short cut through VFW Road," Faircloth said. "I think that cutting off VFW Road is not going to make anybody else happy, so is there a balance?"
Another Ocean Springs resident that attended the meeting was Holly Beaugez. She lives in the national park. She says while closing VFW Road would remove the traffic from some neighborhoods, it would also force drivers from other neighborhoods, who would normally hop off Park Road, to use the road exclusively.
"The whole purpose really, and what they're trying to do is decrease traffic on that point, but for the residents, it'll put us more on that road, because now we can't take the little cut off," Beaugez said.
Beaugez says she is counting on park officials to keep the community in the know and make a decision that's best for everyone.
"I welcome the cyclists and the joggers, and I want them to stay. I think they ought to have use and access to it, but it needs to be safe for everybody. We can't just cut somebody out," Beaugez said.
Brown says the closing of VFW Road is only one option being considered. He says the community will be invited to another meeting once they can finalize the plans.