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D'IBERVILLE - Writing on the wall

Ted McLean calls himself a "converted Biloxian," having lived here 10 years after retiring as a teacher.

He says he's totally devoted to the city, and he's passionate about it.

McLean, 61, attended Monday's Gulf Coast Area Transportation Study public forum at City Hall, and he spent a good deal of time near the wall devoted to the Harrison County east-west corridor study.

He worries about what happens if money isn't spent adding another road to the Coast's infrastructure.

"It's going to be a world-class destination or a world-class parking lot," McLean said. "And there is no in between."

About 50 people attended the first of three meetings this week, which also had displays for transit, bicycle-pedestrian, safety, freight and planned improvement studies. Tonight's meeting will be in Hancock County; Wednesday's is in Jackson County.

On display in D'Iberville were plastic-covered maps for writing notes about the corridor. There were display boards with 10 different concepts for roadways along and astride the CSX Transportation right of way, or independent of it.

Combinations running from five lanes to three were illustrated, including divided and undivided. "Couplets," running two lanes on either side of the railroad, were also included.

McLean was frustrated that the initial congressional funding attempt failed. He thinks the corridor should be being built instead of being mired in the conceptual stage, which it still is.

"I hope people don't give up," said Elaine Wilkinson, executive director of the Gulf Regional Planning Commission, which is overseeing the study. "We won't get anywhere if people get discouraged."

Brad Ledford, 29, is a military transplant from Ruston, La., who has been stationed at the Naval Construction Battalion Center in Gulfport and Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi for four years. While the planners and politicians use the term "beach boulevard" when framing their vision of U.S. 90, he opts for the less politic "true tourist trap."

He's not angling for the gaudy, but the cozy hometown feel of a resort town.

Ledford's frame of reference is obviously centered around Keesler. He sees the congestion getting on and off the base, but sees how fixing it could help the city.

"If I look at the community, I think certain streets like Division were built to greater capacity to try to increase usage, but they're not being utilized because of lack of connection or lack of need," he said. "If you look at those areas, they need some sort of revitalization."


If you go

There are two more meetings this week, one each in Hancock and Jackson counties. Both meetings start at 6 p.m.; doors open at 5:30.

Tonight

Where: Kiln Library, 17065 Mississippi 603.

Wednesday

Where: Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College Student Center, 2300 U.S. 90, Gautier.

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