BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Biloxi leaders have an endorsed a route to connect two of the city's major thoroughfares: Popp's Ferry Road and Highway 90. Most of the council discussion centered around what to do once road meets the railroad tracks. Engineers said Biloxi's choices are to build its extension on the ground, what's called a grade level crossing, or with an elevated overpass.
"We should have at least one crossing that is elevated so people can get past the CSX railroad that divides this entire city in half," said Bill Stallworth.
However, some council members see an overpass stalling commercial development.
"Being on the surface would be a whole lot better to me as far as the rest of the area because then you have all that green space back there you can develop," said George Lawrence, Ward 1. "You build an overpass, you don't have a shot for anything there."
Engineers said with a grade level crossing, Biloxi's portion for the Popp's Ferry extension is $1.6 million or 20 percent of the total $8 million cost. There's government matching funds for the rest. The total price with an overpass is about $28 million, and engineers said that would make the amount of matching available funding is questionable.
Steve Twedt of Neel-Schaffer said, "We feel like the earmark in regular Gulf Regional Planning Commission funds will fund the construction of it at grade. But if you need enough money to do an overpass, they may not have enough of 80 percent federal money to do that."
After learning about the hefty price tag, Biloxi leaders decided against the overpass. The Biloxi City Council also looked at two different routes and decided on the one that would require the buyout of eight homes rather than 14 homes and that has less wetland impact.
If MDOT signs off on the plans, officials say the next step will be a public hearing.