New fishing bridges to lure fishermen back to Biloxi

By Trang Pham-Bui - bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Even on a windy day, you can find Johnny Griffith wetting a line, hoping to reel in some redfish or even a croaker.

"I just like being out here since I retired," said Griffith.

He was forced to find other places to fish, since Katrina heavily damaged his favorite spot -- the Back Bay Fishing Bridge, next the IP Casino.

When asked if he misses the bridge, Griffith said, "Oh yeah, a whole lot. In fact everybody.  That's mostly where the fish at. Sometimes the bridge will be full of people from this end clean down to the end."

The battered bridge, along with the damaged Point Cadet Fishing Bridge next to the Palace Casino, will soon be torn down and rebuilt.  The designs for the new concrete structures are finished.

"It'll actually be a drive-on fishing pier," explained Frankie Duggan, the Biloxi Port Manager. "It'll have a turnaround in the middle and a turnaround on the end.  And of course, it'll have the same thing the other one had, accessibility for the handicapped.  You can actually drive out there and not have to get out of your car.  Turn around and fish right outside of your door."

The Point Cadet Fishing Bridge project should go out for bids in about 45 to 50 days. However, the Back Bay Fishing Bridge is on hold for now while the city works out some archeological issues.

"An Indian burial ground at the foot of the bridge.  They found some artifacts," said Duggan. "So they're checking that out to see if that has any significance, and we all should be able to start on that pretty shortly."

The two bridges will also have sidewalks on both sides and lights for nighttime fishing.

Johnny Griffith plans to be one of the first to return to his favorite bridge, as soon as it opens.

"Oh, that's going to be great for me," he said with a laugh. "I know it's going to be great for others too, because they love to fish on this bridge."

It will cost more than $8 million to remove the bridge debris and rebuild the Point Cadet Fishing Bridge. And the Back Bay Fishing Bridge construction will cost about $3.5 million.  Both projects are being funded by FEMA.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.