Bridge open, finished 3 days ahead of schedule

By Elise Roberts - bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - A popular South Mississippi bridge is back open. It's been 36 days since a barge knocked out two sections of the Popps Ferry Bridge, but after weeks of work, the popular connection is back open. Lauren Rackley is student at Biloxi High School.

"25 minutes there and 25 minutes back," said Rackley.

The student was on her way to a cheerleading clinic when she got word the Popps Ferry Bridge was scheduled to open earlier than many people anticipated.

And the star student was the first to cross the newly rebuilt bridge.

Rackley said, "I'm just happy that it's open. I've been having to go all the way around for school."

MDOT Engineer Kelly Castleberry said, "It will probably go back to that pretty quick as soon as everybody finds out that it's back open."

Kelly Castleberry with MDOT says about 28,000 cars travel across the bridge every day, just one reason it was important to repair the popular connection and repair it quickly.

Joe McGee said, "It was a real challenge when we heard about the project. We came down and decided we were going to bid on it. Our people were enthusiastic about the challenge."

Joe McGee Construction finished the work in just 14 days.

Now, after several long days and a number of inspections, he says Popps Ferry Bridge is stronger than ever.

"We're finished," McGee said.

The pedestrian guard rail on the Popps Ferry Bridge is not open for use. That's because the rail has to be specially made. The guard rail should re-open around the first of June.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.