Biloxi in midst of improving traffic flow citywide

The City of Biloxi over the next several weeks will begin a process that could see the removal of a trio of traffic signals on Pass Road and Howard Avenue, and Mayor A.J. Holloway says this work is merely a small part of a multi-million-dollar citywide effort to improve the flow of traffic for Biloxi motorists.

This week, workers in the sign division of the Public Works Department installed signs at Pass Road and McDonnell Avenue, and on Howard Avenue at Seal Avenue and Lee Street to notify the public that traffic signals at those intersections were under review for removal.

For a 90-day period beginning in early November, the signals will be put in a flashing mode, with traffic on Pass and Howard having the right of way. The plan is to remove the signals unless public comment warrants otherwise. As many as 23,000 vehicles travel Pass Road on an average day, and about 6,000 travel Howard Avenue on an average day. Only a fraction of those numbers use McDonnell, Lee or Seal.

The changes are in line with recommendations made in a 2002 analysis of the 56 signalized intersections in the city at that time. Since that analysis was completed, the city has invested a quarter million dollars in purchasing and installing larger and brighter traffic signals. Also, five new intersections have been signalized as a result of opening new roads in the past several months: on Back Bay Boulevard at Lee, Holley, Crawford and Oak streets, and on Popp’s Ferry Road at Jam Lane.

“On the new streets we’ve built or have under construction – Back Bay Boulevard or Popp’s Ferry Road – we’re using the latest technology, along with turning lanes and other safety features,” Mayor A.J. Holloway said, “and at the same time we’re upgrading key intersections on major arteries throughout the city. Between the constructing of new roadways and the upgrading of technology on existing roadways, we’re hoping to improve the flow of traffic in a safe and efficient manner.”

Engineers are in the process of designing improvements that will be made at all Pass Road intersections in Biloxi. The $2.7 million project will include upgrading to signals that emit brighter light, improving synchronization and, at key Pass Road intersections, adding right turning lanes. Construction is expected to begin in Spring ’04 and may require as much as year.

And, as part of a federal mandate to reduce repetitive damage from storms, the city is asking federal and state officials to help fund a $2.6 million project to install mast arm, or cantilevered, signals on U.S. 90, where the majority of the 22 traffic signals now dangle from overhead wires and are vulnerable to high winds. Once approved by FEMA and MEMA, the project could be completed in 18 months.

Said Holloway: “These cantilevered lights that you’ll be seeing more of around town will not only be more attractive and less susceptible to storm damage, but we’re also looking to equip those on Highway 90 with battery systems so they can remain in service even if there was an interruption in electrical service. That means we won’t have to man these busy intersections with police officers around the clock before, during and after storms, which is a savings to our citizens and helps things return to normal quicker after storms.”