New Road Opened with Casino Road Tax Money Won't Help
Biloxi Casino Traffic Congestion
The Mississippi Department of Transportation opened the new extension of the Cowan-Lorraine Road Wednesday. The new road, officially called Highway 605, connects with Highway 67 and currently services mostly empty land in central Harrison County that will become the Traditions Community. MDOT's Southern District commissioner, Wayne Brown told reporters with the Sun Herald that the road was funded partially with money earmarked by the legislature to help ease congestion for Biloxi's billion dollar casino industry.
While the new road will certainly aid somewhat in relieving some of the congestion on U.S. 49 in north Gulfport, a road that becomes nearly a parking lot in the afternoons, the new road is not likely to aid in easing traffic conditions in Biloxi, where the bulk of the casinos are located on the Coast.
Mississippi 605 is supposed to be a part of what Brown is calling the "platinum triangle" of roads that will eventually open service the Coast in the next few years. The road include U.S. 49, Mississippi 605, and the under-construction Mississippi 67, which will be a northern extension of Interstate 110 to U.S. 49 near Saucier.
Mississippi 605 runs almost exactly north and south from the intersection of Cowan-Lorraine Road and Interstate 10 to Mississippi 67.
Wayne Brown has said that he has no vision for actually working to solve Biloxi's transportation needs. He recently said that the East Harrison County Connector in Biloxi, a critically needed new bridge from I-10 to Biloxi, was basically off the table. This is after the route had been studied and announced repeatedly of the years.
The commissioner confessed recently to a Sun Herald reporter that he did not know what the answer was to Biloxi's future transportation needs, but predicted traffic will increase.
MDOT seems to have taken most of the money earmarked for improving roads to help Biloxi's expanding tourism and decided to spend it elsewhere. The Tradition's community is a planned, upscale community that is under development in the central area of Harrison County.
MDOT did open the new Highway 605 six months ahead of schedule. The contractor Warren Paving of Gulfport said the work would have been finished even earlier if Hurricane Katrina would not have occurred. This statement suggests that MDOT doesn't have a grasp of the actual time work is needed for projects. MDOT is usually not on schedule for road completions and projects.
Last night, there was yet another accident on the busy I-110 bridge over Biloxi's Bay Bay that runs to the heart of Biloxi and its casinos. The bridge is in darkness as MDOT has yet to replace the lights knocked out by Katrina over 15 months ago.