Gulfport Reopens Highway 90 - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

11/30/05

Gulfport Reopens Highway 90

Since Hurricane Katrina, the City of Gulfport has allowed only limited traffic on Highway 90. But that changes Thursday morning at ten. That's when Gulfport re-opens the once busy beach highway to all traffic.

A spokesman for Mayor Brent Warr says it was a "group decision" to go ahead with the re-opening of Highway 90.  That decision involved Mayor Warr, the City Council, M-DOT and the police chief.

And while some greet the news as a welcome sign of recovery, others worry that re-opening the highway in Gulfport only will create even more of a traffic mess.

Fred Franklin spent the day Wednesday sprucing up Highway 90 for the expected rush of traffic Thursday morning. The lanes have been littered since the storm.

"Sand and debris and trash. And sweeping nails and tacks and stuff off the road. Trying to keep cars from getting flats, there's a bunch of that stuff around," said Franklin.

While Franklin and his crew got the road clean, M-DOT workers installed stop signs to keep it safe.

"One thing I would ask is that residents and travelers be patient. And they exercise extreme caution. Because we still don't have traffic signals up and running and the traffic signals in place. They're posted with stop signs," said Gulfport police chief, Steve Barnes.

The stop sign at the Biloxi city limits means the end of the ride for Highway 90 drivers.

"Biloxi is still not opening Highway 90 for full traffic," said police chief Bruce Dunagan.

Dunagan is disappointed the cities couldn't agree to re-open at the same time.

"I anticipate there will be a lot of motorists waiting to come and see what's actually happened on 90, the damage they haven't seen it, which is going to really aggravate the problem even more," said Chief Dunagan.

Biloxi's police chief is concerned that eastbound drivers reaching the roadblock at the Biloxi city limits will create a real traffic tie up on Debuys Road. Gulfport's chief says, if that happens, he has a back up plan ready.

"And if we see that gets to be a problem along Debuys Road, we're going to back that traffic up and shoot them up Cowan Lorraine road, which is four lane and probably a little easier," said Chief Barnes.

Drivers who choose to travel 90 in Gulfport, should bring their patience.

"It's going to be slower than normal. You can expect delays. You can expect some back ups," said the Gulfport chief.

The city of Biloxi is sticking to its December 15th date to reopen all lanes of 90, with street lights and traffic lights operating.

Southern District transportation commissioner Wayne Brown told WLOX News he's pleased Gulfport is re-opening Highway 90.

Brown said it may cause a few problems, but the quicker we get back to normal, the better.

By Steve Phillips 

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