Biloxi Wants Federal Money To Look At Popps Ferry Bridge - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

11/10/03

Biloxi Wants Federal Money To Look At Popps Ferry Bridge

The sounds of tires rolling over the 24 year old Popps Ferry bridge echoed off the Back Bay.

Because of widening work near Willo Goodwin's Sunkist neighborhood, the bridge could become a traffic bottleneck, unless its rebuilt.

"It's inevitable. It has to be done," the Biloxi man said as he watched crews work on the new lanes. "But when is the thing. Because you alleviated stuff this way. But you haven't done anything this way."

The bottleneck near the bridge is something Biloxi spokesman Vincent Creel said his city would like to address.

"We'd like the bridge to be as functional as the roadway leading to it," said Creel.

Right now, the roadway leading to it is a massive pile of dirt and orange barrels. Biloxi is paying more than $7 million to widen the northside of Popps Ferry Road. The city would like the federal government to chip in on a new bridge. That's why the mayor and the Mississippi Department of Transportation both sent letters to Mississippi's Congressional delegation.

"They're aware of the needs on this," said Creel, speaking for the mayor because he was out of town. "They're working on it right now. And there is hope that they could get some money to begin the initial study, the analysis, the environmental impact of what we need to do to improve the situation."

A spokesman for Congressman Gene Taylor said he put in a two million dollar request for the feasibility study.  But that transportation bill has been put on hold until early next year.

The Popps Ferry Road widening work should be done a year from now. By then, Biloxi could have the federal funding it requested to determine whether its back bay bridge should be expanded.

According to Creel, Mayor Holloway has two main problems with the current Popps Ferry bridge. It's raised and lowered almost 20 times a day, causing frequent traffic delays. And during a hurricane evacuation, it can't go up in winds that top 35 miles per hour.

The mayor would like the feasibility study to determine if a second span should be added, if an entirely new bridge should be built, or if the current Popps Ferry bridge should simply be widened.

by Brad Kessie

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