Biloxi's Patience Rewarded With New Traffic Lights

New traffic lights or new street signs are coming to 630 Biloxi streets to replace those damaged or destroyed by Katrina That's three quarters of the entire city. Now for the really good news. City leaders say the entire $2.5 million bill for the work is being picked up by the state and federal government.

With thousands of cars traveling Popp's Ferry Road each day, Biloxi city officials felt getting the traffic light at Popp's and Jam Lane working again was a priority.

"All of our work is driven by the streets that are most heavily traveled," said city spokesperson Vincent Creel. "We would have like to have had them all fixed and ready by now, but to do that we would have had to break federal guidelines and policies."

More than a year after Katrina, a dozen or so signal lights aren't fixed and drivers are still encountering four way stops where traffic lights once were. City leaders say because of Keesler Air Force Base, 40 Biloxi streets are eligible for federal aid. Although the application process meant a longer wait for repairs, city leaders decided against moving quickly and going it alone.

"The mayor said all along, 'We can do it right, or we can do it right now,'" said Creel. "What we've been trying to do all along is to do it right. People have to remember that this money is coming from city coffers and we're being reimbursed by the federal government. That's what people need to remember. With the hundreds of millions of dollars in repairs that we face, we have to proceed very cautiously on how we do this."

It's not just traffic lights getting a new look. School zones, flashing red lights, and street signs at 51 locations will also be replaced under the project.

"With every traffic signal, every school zone crossing signal that goes back up, it's just another step to not being back to where we were, but being better than we were before," said Creel.

Biloxi has given the contractor 150 days to replace traffic lights at several high priority intersections including White Avenue and Irish Hill Drive, Howard Avenue and Caillavet Street and Howard and Reynoir. The entire project is expected to take more than a year.