Senator Trent Lott and state Highway Commissioner Wayne Brown led the motorcade across Pascagoula's New High Rise bridge. The parade of dignitaries that followed probably breathed a sigh of relief that this day had finally arrived.
"It's been a long time coming and today is the beginning and it's the first time a lot of us have been up to see the view and we're just all awestruck," City Manager Kay Johnson said.
The bridge and all the property needed for it cost $65 million. Eighty percent of that, or $52 million, came from federal funds. Senator Lott gets much of the credit for making that happen, and says the Pascagoula and Jackson County will reap the rewards.
"It's also about making sure people will come down off of I-10 and drive along the coast of old 90 and see what we have to offer down here," Senator Trent Lott said.
Safety and convenience was another concern with the old draw bridge.
"The toll bridge has been here about 50 years and is really on its last legs and needed to be replaced anyway," County Supervisor Tim Broussard said.
The new bridge may also give residents and visitors a new perspective on Pascagoula.
"It shows off all of the natural assets, the water, the trees. And then I like it when you drive across you see the church steeple right as you drive into town. I just think it's a beautiful view," Johnson said.
"It's beautiful, Pascagoula is gorgeous. I've always said it and this just proves it. The scenery is the homeport, the city, the river, it's fabulous. It's fabulous. We're a beautiful city and maybe people can see that now," Councilwoman Bebe Sutherland said.
Traffic may be on the new bridge, but the project is far from over. MDOT still has to build ramps connecting the new bridge to Northrop Grumman and Naval Station Pascagoula. It also has to finish the road that will loop traffic onto Pascagoula Street. MDOT's plan is to finish that work and tear out the old bridge by November.