MDOT says will take on Popp's Ferry Bridge repair project

By Danielle Thomas - bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Be patient. Leave early. That's the message for drivers in Biloxi who normally take the Popp's Ferry Bridge. On Friday, a barge hit the bridge destroying two 90-foot sections and eight pilings. MDOT officials say by Monday crews will have adjusted many of the traffic lights on Highway 90 in Biloxi and Cowan Lorraine Road in Gulfport to keep cars moving and prevent backups.

On Saturday inspection crews were taking pictures and taking measurements to try to figure out how to repair the Popp's Ferry bridge as quickly as possible. That is exactly what Biloxi Mayor A.J. Holloway says is needed.

"That's a major artery in the city of Biloxi. It's a major evacuation route," said Mayor Holloway.

As a hurricane evacuation route, the mayor says the Popp's Ferry bridge is eligible for federal disaster funds if the city declares a state of emergency. That could happen at a special meeting set for Monday. Then the mayor says MDOT will hopefully step in from there.

Mayor A.J. Holloway said, "That's the reason we're going through and working and partnering with MDOT. They have capabilities that we do not have. We have to go on a strict state law. And of course, we could declare an emergency, but we couldn't get the emergency funds as quickly as the state can."

Holloway says MDOT can advertise and award bids in days where it would take the city months.

MDOT spokesperson Michael Pol told WLOX, "Our district engineer has said that we are definitely going to take the project. We can do it quicker. We have the expertise to get that done quickly."

"Would not cost the city or cost the residents of Biloxi, as far as going towards the repair of the bridge, one dollar. What the emergency funds does is whatever we receive from insurance, they will take that and that will be final payment,"said Mayor Holloway.

The mayor says once the repairs start, the work should be done in 40 days. For now, drivers must look for alternative routes.

"People are going to have to be taking different routes and have to leave a little early and get back a little later," he said. "It's an inconvenience that we're going to have to put up with for awhile."

Mayor Holloway says starting Monday, maps showing alternative routes to the Popp's Ferry Bridge will be posted in both Mississippi Welcome Centers along Interstate 10. He also says he is pleased with the way emergency responders handled the bridge accident.

©2009 WLOX. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.