Replacing Aging Bridge Must Wait - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

01/29/04

Replacing Aging Bridge Must Wait

One of the busiest bridges on the coast is beginning to show its age. The Biloxi-Ocean Springs bridge opened to traffic 42 years ago. Anyone who drives over the Highway 90 span can tell you about the bumpy ride.

Even transportation commissioner Wayne Brown admits driving across the bridge is a bit like being on a carnival ride. But as for replacing it, it's a question of money.

Thousands of cars cross the Biloxi-Ocean Springs bridge 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. That's a lot of traffic, especially when you consider the bridge opened in January of 1962.

Missing and broken sections of railing are an unsightly testament to decades of accidents and close encounters with cars. A patchwork of welded steel forms the deck of the drawbridge. Often slippery, it's one of the smoother parts of an always bumpy ride.

"I think it's a little rundown. But with a little fixing on it it would be a little better."

Scattered car parts are evidence of the bouncy ride across the aging bridge.

"It's a little bumpy. Right there in the middle. But, uh, it's better than nothing."

"Well it's pretty good, but it's kind of bouncy. But otherwise it's pretty good."

As for replacing the bridge with a new one, the southern district transportation commissioner says it will happen, but not anytime soon.

Wayne Brown told WLOX News, "It's not in our three year plan and not in our five year plan".

As is often the case, money is the challenge.

Brown says our bridges are growing old, and we have a hard time keeping up. Many drivers say a new Biloxi-Ocean Springs bridge is needed.

"Yes, I do. Because of all the traffic."

Those who use the bridge also understand where bridge building money comes from.

"Well, it all depends on how much money the taxpayers want to pay on it, right? It always does."

Wayne Brown says building new bridges is a costly proposition. The new high rise bridge in Pascagoula was around a $70 million project. The new I-10 bridge over the Jourdan river was about $65 million.

Commissioner Brown also told us those broken railing sections will be replaced with some rails salvaged from the old Pascagoula drawbridge.

by Steve Phillips

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