Black Spring Break Traffic Plan To Be Released Next Week

When WLOX News met with the group FOCUS , one of the biggest questions was about traffic. Committee members said they would not release their traffic plan until the middle of next week. They said at that time, they're going to saturate the media with the information so local folks know just what they should expect and plan for.

"We're going to come out with a traffic plan and we're going to ask our local people to look at it and plan their days around this traffic plan that we have," Biloxi Mayor A.J. Holloway said. "We're going to try to get everybody, the breakers, on Highway 90, keep them out of our neighborhoods and give us room to move around in our city."

Holloway admitted he is nervous about the upcoming event, but he and other committee members said they're confident things will be a lot better as a result of all the planning they've done.

For example, they've received help from the law enforcement community in Atlanta where an event called Freaknik once attracted as many as 250,000 people and paralyzed the city. After seven years, city leaders came up with a plan there that worked.

FOCUS plans to copy that. Members feel if they make public safety priority number one and they find a way to keep traffic moving, the event will be successful.

"The thing is, that you really don't know how many people you got coming, but I think that we've worked on public safety, we've worked on protecting the people's rights here,"said Gulfport Mayor Short. "We've worked on areas that we had trouble with before, so I feel like we're ready."

FOCUS member Kathy Egland, who is on the National Board of Directors for the NAACP, also shared her concerns at Wednesday's meeting.

She says the perception in the African-American community is that people don't want the spring breakers to come to the coast and she says, as a result, race relations are becoming even more strained. She says the black community needs to be more proactive in lending support to make the event work.

"There is some talk of having a welcome center during the event and some other things that would make the spring breakers feel welcome," Egland said.

It hasn't been decided yet where that would be, but as with the other information about the traffic plan, we will pass things along as we hear about them.

The Biloxi and Gulfport police chiefs as well as the Harrison County Sheriff have all asked outside agencies to provide extra officers and deputies during the event.

One thing that had been mentioned several months ago was bringing in the National Guard. Officials said Wednesday that would not happen.