The week ends without any information from the state port in Gulfport on what traffic will be like if a mega-expansion takes place.
The Steps Coalition has started Partners for a Safe and Healthy Port to help residents inform themselves about the port expansion and make sure the project benefits the community.
To this end, residents said they want to know more about the proposed route that will connect the port on U.S. 90 to Interstate 10. I made some calls, beginning Friday a week ago. I wanted traffic projections. How many trucks will be running in and out of the port every day?
Well, the port said they had those projections, but the Mississippi Department of Transportation would be the more appropriate agency to release them. So I called MDOT. To his credit, a chief engineer at MDOT took my call late on a Friday after everyone else had left, even though this wasn't his area.
I received a followup call from MDOT on Monday. They had no projections, I was told. So, I e-mailed one of my contacts at the port. Here's the e-mail:
Heard back from MDOT. They say they have no traffic studies that include traffic counts for an expanded port. Maybe I misunderstood that these numbers existed? I'm not understanding how a road can be designed without them.
At some point, MDOT informed me the port had done preliminary traffic projections. So why did they refer me to MDOT? My port contact e-mailed Tuesday morning to say that Melinda McGrath with MDOT would be calling me with the projections. I got busy. I didn't bug her. She must have gotten busy, too.
I still don't have any numbers to share.
I hope this is not indicative of what residents will face in trying to get information on the port expansion, which Gov. Barbour says is the biggest economic development project in state history.
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