The Howard Avenue/Reynoir Street intersection has been missing its traffic light since Katrina blew it down. That was almost 10 month ago.
Cathy Jordan works near that signal in downtown Biloxi. In fact, she frequently walks across Reynoir Street to go to lunch.
"All over Biloxi I'm concerned about the ones they haven't replaced," she said.
We met Jordan and Pamela Nieman walking past a temporary four way stop sign that Biloxi hasn't replaced yet.
"It is dangerous," Jordan admitted.
Nieman said the danger had to do with the number of cars that sort of ignored the stop sign.
"They just kind of come to what we call a Hollywood stop or whatever, and don't look all three other ways," she said. "And I think a lesson in protocol would be great, if they're going to keep the four way stops."
The thing is, Biloxi has no plans to keep the stop signs. It's just taking a bit longer than anybody thought it would to obtain the funding that fixes 47 traffic signals, and school zone warning lights around the city.
Jason Elliott is with Neel-Schaffer. His engineering firm is charged with getting the traffic signals back on line.
"At first we didn't think we were going to have to jump through all the hoops that we're having to," he said.
Because of those hoops, efforts to quickly replace the signals have run into a traffic jam.
"I've heard people complaining," the project manager said.
Most of the complaints are about how long it's taking to steer this project through bureaucratic red tape. Drivers see red lights and green lights in neighboring cities, and they wonder why Biloxi is still using so many stop signs.
"It's just that it's a normal process that MDOT makes us go through," said Elliott. "It's not any longer than it normally would be for any project. The goal is to not have taxpayers' money, City of Biloxi money pay for these projects."
Elliott said Biloxi has what it considers five "priority intersections" that will get traffic signals first. Two of those intersections are on Howard Avenue, one is the Irish Hill light in front of Keesler Air Force Base, one is the Eisenhower Drive light at the mall, and fifth is on Popp's Ferry Road at Jam Lane. In fact, that light will be worked on first, so it can be operational by the beginning of the school year.
According to Neel-Schaffer, the other four signals should be fixed by the end of the year. And the remaining 42 lights should be repaired by the early part of next year.
by Brad Kessie
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