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Gulfport Communities Say Port Expansion Will Increase Traffic, Diminish Air Quality

By Rhonda Miller | Published 14 Jun 2011 09:45am | comments
Howard Page, organizer of A Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Port, speaks at the Steps Coalition press conference in Gulfport.

The Port of Gulfport has received $481 million in federal money to finish rebuilding from the destruction of Hurricane Katrina.  MPB’s Rhonda Miller reports some in the community are afraid they’re going to get the worst part of progress. 

Students from a summer camp are singing, “They take the housing money and then forget you.”  The adults at the meeting of the Steps Coalition in Gulfport say the song is about the Housing and Urban Development money for rebuilding the port.

Howard Page is the organizer of A Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Port.  

Page said, "$481 million has been approved for a plan that will expand the port of Gulfport, and the community has raised many concerns about air pollution, traffic congestion, noise pollution and that the fact that this project does not create enough jobs for the size of the public funds that are being invested. "

Rose Johnson is executive director of the North Gulfport Community Land Trust. She’s concerned her neighborhood may be forgotten in the push for economic development.

"I have serious concerns about the port expansion, because all the negative impact from the pollution is concentrated in and around a low-income community, particularly my community, North Gulfport," Johnson said.

Port Executive Director Don Allee said the state port authority has held lots of public meetings and repeatedly talked with citizens about their concerns.

"Air quality, water quality, noise, let’s talk about noise quality. I would take the position we are looking at those things," Allee said. "I can tell you, on any given day, I deal with six or seven state and federal agencies responsible for those very issues - air quality, water quality, those types of things.

The total cost of the port restoration is $570 million and the project is expected to take six years to complete.   

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Howard Page, organizer of A Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Port, speaks at the Steps Coalition press conference in Gulfport.


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