Jackson County

Officials want to make dangerous, narrow road safer

A feasibility study has been looking at traffic on Ocean Springs Road with an eye on widening and improving it. Jackson County is offering residents a chance to see what it came up with.
A feasibility study has been looking at traffic on Ocean Springs Road with an eye on widening and improving it. Jackson County is offering residents a chance to see what it came up with. jcfitzhugh@sunherald.com

Ideas on how to widen and improve Ocean Springs Road will soon be available for the public to see.

The popular but dangerous two-lane cut-through road is only four miles long — half in Ocean Springs and half in Jackson County. It’s narrow for the amount of traffic it carries and has no proper shoulder.

It has long been used as a cut-through from Mississippi 57 at Interstate 10 to the area of town that includes Ocean Springs Hospital, Gulf Islands National Seashore and stores and restaurants.

Jackson County and Gulf Regional Planning matched roughly $100,000 in federal highway money to hire engineering firm Burk-Kleinpeter to come up with feasible ways to improve the road. Adam Jackson, who is with the firm, said one way is to widen the southern two miles in the city limits to three lanes with a separate 10-foot-wide multi-use bike and walking path running along the west side.

It has deep ditches on either side, no lighting and when people stop to turn into Toscana or The Vineyard, they get rear-ended.

Ocean Springs Mayor Connie Moran

Speed is a big issue for the road. After all, a shortcut is usually about saving time.

Mayor Connie Moran said she believes it’s the most dangerous road on the west side of the county and it’s getting more dangerous as subdivisions build up along both sides.

“Most accidents are in the city limits,” Moran said. “It has deep ditches on either side, no lighting, and when people stop to turn into Toscana or The Vineyard, they get rear-ended.”

The feasibility study drawings reflect some of what she would like to see for the Ocean Springs portion of the road — wide enough for two lanes, a median that can be cut for turn bays and the west side ditches piped and covered for a path so people can walk or bike from subdivision to subdivision.

She’d like to see special trees in the median, something attractive to calm traffic. The traffic needs calming on that speedway.

Jackson said right now the study has those special amenities for the city end of the road only, and as it enters the more rural county at Reilly Road, it remains two lanes, but with wider and safer shoulders on both sides. The BKI study also has examples of concepts for some of the intersections.

The plans will be on display from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday at the Ocean Springs Civic Center, 3730 Bienville Blvd.

Feedback will guide the conceptual engineering designs, county officials said. Residents who have questions or comments but are unable to attend may contact Jackson at 875-1919. All comments need to be submitted by Dec. 1.

“We’ve done traffic studies. We’ll see what the future holds,” County Administrator Brian Fulton said. “As development grows, it may need more.”

The county and city will take recommendations, come up with cost estimates, then decide if, when or how to pay for it, he said.

There should be a second public screening in February or March, Moran said.

She estimated it would take a year to design the project once they settle on all the aspects, then they apply for funding from the state or federal government. Usually there is a 20 percent county and city match.

Public open house

  • 5-7 p.m. Thursday
  • Ocean Springs Civic Center, 3730 Bienville Boulevard
  • No formal presentation
  • Viewers ask questions.
  • Comments help mold the project going forward.
  Comments