Problems Still Plague Popps Ferry Bridge

Cars seemed to be moving smoothly across the Popps Ferry Bridge Thursday, but below, boats and barges had a tougher time. For now, they have to give an hour's notice before crossing under.  That's because the control panel that automatically operates the ramps on the bridge is not working, so crews have to manually lock down the bridge from underneath.

Mayor AJ Holloway said "After so many times, that thing's going to break again. It's a hydraulic, it's old".

Mayor Holloway says this latest mechanical snafu, right in the middle of hurricane season, is the very reason the 25-year old bridge needs to go.

Holloway said "This is exactly what we're concerned about with the bridge not being able to operate for marine traffic or vehicular traffic. During a disastrous hurricane or something like that, when we have to evacuate people".

Mayor Holloway lobbied Congress for federal funding to replace the bridge. His hard work seems to be paying off. Congress just approved $4 million for the city to build a taller, wider bridge.

Holloway said "We've made our case to Washington. They bought our case with the $4 million".

But it's not a done-deal yet. The President must still sign-off on the funding. Mayor Holloways says the project still faces a rough road ahead.

Holloway said "The money's not available until he signs it, and hopefully, it stays in there. He's looking at the bill that he claims has a lot of pork in it. I'll be happy when he signs it".

The mayor says it could cost between $40-to-$50 million for a new four-lane bridge. That means the $4 million approved by Congress is not enough. So in August, he plans to make a trip to Washington to lobby for more money.

The new bridge will definitely be another draw bridge, because there's just not enough space for a high rise. The city is looking at a second option -- building another two-lane bridge right next to the old one. One bridge will handle southbound traffic and the other for northbound traffic.

By: Trang Pham-Bui