Pascagoula Residents Celebrate New Bridge, Remember Old

After three years of construction, all lanes of the new Pascagoula High rise bridge are now open to traffic. The four lanes in the eastbound direction officially opened just before noon Monday when workers finished putting the final touches on the bridge. It marks the first time all eight lanes have been fully operational on the new $48 million bridge.

Shortly after the lanes were opened the old Pascagoula Drawbridge was closed down. It's scheduled for demolition in August. The closing of the drawbridge is opening a flood of memories for many Pascagoula residents.

As Linda Fox watched the east bound lanes of the Pascagoula high rise bridge open to traffic, she remembered the day the old drawbridge opened almost 50 years ago.

"I think there was a lot more excitement when the old bridge opened," Fox said. "The high school and junior high band, we were all bused over across the old bridge and we played at the grand ribbon cutting."

Warren Gautier helped cut the ribbon at that opening ceremony.

"Numerous people gathered around and they gave us a big pair of scissors and we had to kind of hold hands together to cut the ribbon. It seemed a lot to do about nothing, but as soon as the ribbon was cut, everybody started cheering and the band started playing and everyone was shaking hands. They put us in cars and told us, 'We're gonna take a ride.' and we came across the causeway and into Pascagoula. But we didn't have to stop and pay a toll," Gautier said.

If they had been asked for a toll, they would have given it to Sarah Boykin's father.

"He loved it. He enjoyed people. People would come through who didn't have a quarter and he would tell them to leave something and he would put a quarter and they never did come back for what they left. He would come home with cigarette lighters, pencils, pens and knives and everything," Boykin said.

The old drawbridge was closed down shortly after the high rise's eastbound lanes were opened. Now Pascagoula residents say stories will keep the memory of the old bridge alive.

"It's always gonna be a part of our life... Even though it's not there it's gonna be in our hearts," said Rebecca Davis with the Main Street Association.

by Josh Rigedell