|Focus Area:||Planning that is smart and just|
|Full Description:||Following Hurricane Katrina's devastation along the Gulf Coast in 2005, Mississippi's waterfront communities were tasked with rebuilding in a resilient, sustainable, and equitable manner to ensure that future natural disasters would be less disruptive. Mississippi Coast communities have incorporated sustainability and encouragement of active transportation modes into the planning and rebuilding process by crafting strategic partnerships among residents, political leaders, community organizations, and businesses.
Ocean Springs led early by pushing for a dedicated walking & bicycling path along the reconstructed US-90 bridge, and Pascagoula began hosting active mobility events such as an Open Streets festival and regular group bicycle rides along their Historic Bike Trail. Other communities in the three coastal counties followed with improvements and programs to support healthy transportation, with several experiencing improved economic activity and quality of life. The Gulf Coast Healthy Communities Collaborative has assisted in this ambitious effort at the regional level by encouraging partnerships between the MS Department of Health, transportation and housing industries, and local government staff.
Keys to success have been identifying political champions, creative use of funding sources, regional collaboration, and the tireless support of advocates. Primary challenges have been resistance from private property owners; a lack of dedicated funding for active transportation and placemaking initiatives; and historical economic, social, and infrastructure investment disparities that have resulted in an uneven starting line for many communities. Our panel will highlight both the successes we’ve accomplished as a region and the ongoing challenges to realizing our collective goals.
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