OCEAN SPRINGS, Miss. (WLOX) - Ocean Springs is steadily growing and, while many in the town are a fan of the hustle and bustle, one treasured secret has become a safety hazard with traffic.
East Beach used to be a hidden gem but as the City of Discovery continues to grow, more are seeking the solace that the once-quiet beach provides. And the small road that runs along the waterfront is struggling to handle the demands.
“It needs to be safer,” said East Beach resident Tom Butera. “It is an unsafe situation as it is right now.”
City leaders are aware of the issue.
“We are attempting to make Ocean Springs Ward 4 - and Ocean Springs - a safe, walkable community,” said Ward 4 Alderman Ken Papania.
Some in the community are keen on adding a sidewalk just south of the sea wall to get walkers and bikers to safety and to lighten the strain on the small road.
“That is the problem. People walk and bicyclists use the same road as the cars,” said Butera.
City leaders believe a sidewalk will make the area safer and, perhaps after that initial work is done, then they can extend the shoulder of the road.
“East Beach is a very narrow road,” explained Papania. “If two vehicles, two trucks pass each other, it is a pretty tight fit. Matter of fact, that is the reason most of them go to the north. That is the reason we have ruts.”
If they do any shoulder work, the city will stay within their right of way. While some community members are opposed, Papania believes the city must tackle this safety hazard sooner, rather than later.
“I really feel like this is an improvement,” he said. “I think that we all should all welcome it, wrap our arms around it.”