Gulfport connector road moving forward but also getting pushback

Gulfport city and business leaders are excited about a new connector road they say will help will lessen traffic congestion and create economic expansion.
Published: Sep. 2, 2020 at 8:27 PM CDT
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GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - The City of Gulfport is planning a road connector route to lessen traffic congestion, connect to current commercial establishments and create more development. On Thursday, the city will have a public meeting to show off its project.

That also means going through hundreds of acres of wetlands and Howard Page with the North Gulfport Community Land Trust said that it’s a bad idea.

“If you fill these wetlands in, the rain will then go into people’s houses and you’ll create flooding.” said Page.

The road would connect Airport Road east of Highway 49 and go north of I-10 with an overpass. But that’s a little too close for comfort, it’s just a few hundred yards from the already flood-prone Forest Heights community.

Along with Page being worried about what would happen, resident Antonio Green is worried too.

“I don’t have a car,” said Green. “So, I’ve got to be up when it’s pouring down rain to figure me a way out of here.”

A levy rebuilding project already has congressional approval. The city hasn’t come up with the matching funds. Even if it did happen, Page doesn’t think it would be enough.

“It’s not a reasonable proposition to talk about his levy and then do an irresponsible wet lands fill,” said Page. “That’s one step forward and two steps back.”

Someone that knows this battle all too well is Mississippi Sierra Club Director Louie Miller.

“The public killed this project 10-plus years ago because of the impacts, and it appears we’re going to have this fight again.” said Miller.

And Miller added he’s ready for battle.

“At some point, this will go through the permitting process and we plan to engage fully in all capacities including any type of litigation that may or may not have to occur.” said Miller.

The city will have the public meeting from 3 to 6 p.m. at Premium Outlets in Gulfport. Because of COVID-19 restrictions, in-person attendance will be limited.

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