Citizens To Give Input On Highway 49 Widening

A public hearing is set for later this week focusing on widening a section of Highway 49 in Harrison County.

The project includes the area between O'Neal Road and School Road.

MDOT officials say the public discussion will focus on location, design, right-of-way, and environmental concerns.

Commissioner Wayne Brown says four lanes aren't enough anymore to effectively handle all the traffic.

People we spoke with Sunday seem to be split on the issue.

Take a quick turn off Highway 49 and you'll find Hidden Acres Mobile Home Park.

Residents there say they have to plan their comings and goings very carefully.

"It's been kind of hectic," said Christine Watts. "Traffic is really bad especially on Friday afternoons. You have to try to do what you need to do early in advance before 3 p.m. because if you don't the traffic is really heavy."

If Highway 49 had more lanes, Watts believes she and her neighbors would have an easier time merging into traffic.

The owners of Jones Produce, however, are less enthusiastic.

They went through another Highway 49 widening project six years ago when their business was at another location.

"It practically shut our business down for approximately 6 or 8 months. We probably loss several thousands of dollars. The road construction was right in front of our business and they kept having to tear it up and they had to redo it. No one wants to pull off of Highway 49 when there is construction going on," said business owner Sherry Jones.

Jones says she does see the need for improving Highway 49 but not at the expense of area businesses.

"I understand progress and I know that we have problems here on the coast with our traffic and with our highways," she said. "We need to enlarge our roads. I don't have a problem with that. I just hope they would take in consideration that they need to compensate owners for all the money they're having to lose when the construction is going on."

The public hearing is scheduled for this Tuesday at the Orange Grove Community Center from 4 PM to 7 PM.