Popp's Ferry barge collision creates traffic delays for Biloxi students

By Trang Pham-Bui - bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -  From now until probably the end of the school year, many buses in the Biloxi School District will have to head in a different direction.

"Just like Katrina. Another bridge out.  More delays," said Biloxi School Superintendent Dr. Paul Tisdale.

The barge collision that knocked out the Popp's Ferry Bridge Friday morning is causing some headaches for Tisdale and his transportation director.  They had to come up with a new plan to take students across Biloxi's Back Bay.  Tisdale said in the mornings, the bus drivers will have to show up for work earlier, so there shouldn't be any big delays.  However, traffic in the afternoons is always heavier.

To save time, bus drivers won't be departing from the Transportation Department to pick up students.  Instead, they will park 17 buses at Biloxi High School.   Before school ends, the drivers will be taken to the high school campus to board their buses to take students home. They will take the I-110 span to reach the Biloxi peninsula.

"All those 17 buses will meet up with the other 25 buses here at Father Ryan for the Jr. High and 7th Grade Michel," said Biloxi School District Transportation Director Sam Bailey.  "From that point, load up the students. Several of the students will be returned back to the North Bay area by I-110."

Some high school students will end up transferring to the Junior High buses to cut down on delays.

Schools in Biloxi start and end at different times, and many drivers actually drive three routes.  So if they run behind on their first route, that could cause some delays on the second route, and even more delays as they make their final trip to drop off the children.

"It's that cascading effect.  I'm thinking between 30 and 60 minutes in delays, but it's only a guess," said Tisdale.  "It's all determined by traffic flow. If it rains, it will be even later than that."

"Unfortunately, all traffic for the Popp's Ferry will be diverted to 90 and I-110 that we're going to be in it.  So we're working closely with the Biloxi Police Department that if they have traffic patrol out there, that they give priority to the school buses," said Bailey.

Tisdale says Jeff Davis Elementary and Lopez Elementary could see some of the worst delays, because they let out later in the day.  So will Beauvoir Elementary and North Bay Elementary, mainly because they're located on the west side of town.

"We're making lemonade with the lemons we've been given, and we hope parents understand that," said Tisdale.

"We do ask the public to be patient, considerate, and very understanding that these buses may be arriving a little late," said Bailey.

He says if buses run extremely late, substitute drivers and staff members will help out by driving alternate buses.

Just a reminder, there is no school on Monday in the Biloxi School District, because it's a Professional Development Day.

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