Businesses glad to see traffic rolling again over Biloxi bridge

By Brad Kessie - bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - When the Popp's Ferry Bridge was closed, businesses north of the back bay complained that they were losing customers.  Now that the Biloxi bridge is open again, we went back to those businesses to see how things are going.

Donut makers like Cara Walker couldn't wait for the Popp's Ferry Bridge to reopen.

"I was hoping that everybody was waiting on the other side of the bridge, and they would pour in," she said.

But on the fourth day since Popp's Ferry detours ended, Walker's expectations haven't come true yet. Her daily sales of donuts and coffee remain below where they were before the bridge collapsed.

"I hope they just don't know the bridge is open right now," Walker thought.

The Fractured Prune was like so many other businesses along Popp's Ferry Road.  A barge crashed into a section of the bridge on March 20.  Concrete splashed into Biloxi's Back Bay, leaving a huge hole in the bridge.  A contractor hired by MDOT said he could complete repairs in two weeks.

In the meantime, about half of Walker's customers stopped eating donuts.

"We lost all of our morning customers, the business crowds that were taking their donuts to work," Walker said.

Jeannie Donald's salon also got clipped by what became a 36 day bridge detour.

"We didn't have hardly any walk-ins.  I was really concerned," Donald remembered thinking the day after the bridge was closed.

But on April 25, cars reappeared on the bridge, ahead of schedule.  At that moment, Donald realized her business fears were over.

"Yes, it was great," she laughed.  "It was just great to see the traffic out there."

Cara Walker just wonders if it will be enough traffic to get her donut sales back to where they were before the bridge accident took a bite out of business along Popp's Ferry Road.

"I am optimistic. I believe in our product and our people.  And I know our customers are loyal," said Walker.  "They'll be back."

The Popp's Ferry Bridge has a pedestrian walkway.  But it won't reopen until June, because contractors had to special order the rails that protects walkers.

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