Bridgetenders Ready To Open Pascagoula Bridge For Last Time - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

05/02/03

Bridgetenders Ready To Open Pascagoula Bridge For Last Time

A fishing boat headed toward the Gulf of Mexico. When it approached Highway 90, the captain radioed the bridgetender.

Jan Morgan grabbed her microphone. "Yes captain, I'll get the bridge out of the way for you," she told him.

Those words are why Morgan may be one of the most despised woman in Jackson County.

"My cousins have told me that, too," she laughed. "They said, 'Jan, you opened the bridge and you just left us out there'. And I thought I'm sorry."

Every time Morgan flips a series of switches inside the bridge house, a horn sounds. Seconds later, the old, somewhat rusty Pascagoula drawbridge opens. And traffic screeches to a halt.

"We do apologize. That's our job," said Morgan. "We have to stop traffic every so often and let the boats through."

Because the 1954 drawbridge is just 35 feet above the river, it's opened 20-30 times a day so boats can sail through it. At those times, drivers have been known to share a few unflattering words with the bridgetender.

"Yes they do say some unfavorable things," Morgan joked. "But that's all in a day's work. And we don't mind, because we're here to serve them and the marine traffic."

Morgan's days in the bridge house are just about over. On Friday, MDOT moved westbound traffic over to the new 80 foot high rise bridge. By the end of June, eastbound traffic moves, and the drawbridge becomes obsolete. That will be a great moment for the drivers caught by ship traffic. It will be a time of mixed emotions for the bridgetender.

"We're going to miss them," Morgan said, referring to the cars that roll right past her. But, she said, "I can't wait to see the first cars drive on the new bridge. It's going to be a thrill for me."

Moments later, it was time to close the bridge. Morgan got back on the radio.

"Pascagoula Highway 90 bridge is clear and closing to marine traffic," she announced to anybody listening on the radio.

Soon, that announcement will be permanent. The bridge will be cleared out. And the bridgetenders will be gone.

by Brad Kessie

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