Jackson County

Could traffic get any worse in Ocean Springs? How about better?

Motorists drive along U.S. 90 in Ocean Springs in 2012. Mississippi Department of Transportation will reveal plans to widen U.S. 90 to six lanes between downtown Gautier and downtown Ocean Springs.
Motorists drive along U.S. 90 in Ocean Springs in 2012. Mississippi Department of Transportation will reveal plans to widen U.S. 90 to six lanes between downtown Gautier and downtown Ocean Springs. jcfitzhugh@sunherald.com File

MDOT is preparing to widen U.S. 90 for 10 miles in the heart of Jackson County — from downtown Ocean Springs to downtown Gautier.

It’s the only stretch of the federal highway that isn’t already six lanes.

The widening is needed to handle traffic, said Kelly Castleberry, district engineer for the Mississippi Department of Transportation. He plans to be at the public meeting Thursday at the Ocean Spring Civic Center to introduce the project to the drivers who will be dealing with it.

The meeting is scheduled for 4 to 6 p.m. The Civic Center is at 3730 Bienville Blvd., another name for U.S. 90.

The project is slated to begin in 2021 and take up to three years to complete. The state will have to make drainage improvements and move utilities before any construction can begin.

There will be some improvements to service roads along U.S. 90, Castleberry said, but that’s not the focus of the project.

“We’re adding a lane in each direction because there’s congestion in that corridor, especially in the afternoons,” he said. “The focus is on widening the highway.”

In some places, the lane will be added to the inside — in the median between the eastbound and westbound lanes — and at others, it will be on the outside, he said.

“When we widen, the crape myrtles the city has out there in the medians will have to be moved,” he said.

The widening will be from just east of Washington Avenue in Ocean Springs to Dolphin Road at the old Singing River Mall in Gautier.

MDOT already owns a lot of the right-of-way, so very little will need to be acquired. No businesses will need to be bought or moved.

The project will be paid for with federal and state money.

Part of the planning will be to decide how to consolidate business access from the highway.

Castleberry invited all who are interested to come and look at the maps that show the lane configurations.

He said he wants residents to be aware MDOT is working on the project and it does want comments.

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