BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Engineers have changed the design of the new Popp's Ferry Bridge to make it a high rise instead of a draw bridge. The latest sketch puts the middle of the bridge 95 feet in the air.
"I think going to a high rise bridge instead of a draw bridge is going to really benefit Biloxi," Councilman Robert Deming said. "Especially in times of emergency, hurricanes, we will be able to get in and out of the city without having to raise the bridge so boats can move through freely as cars can."
Biloxi City Administrator David Nichols said, "It's going to be less cost involved in it, less cost in operation, and you don't have to pay overhead of people who would operate the draw 24 hours 7 days a week."
The new concept means the bridge would extend further on land than the current bridge. That means the city will have to acquire more land, brining the total number to more than 75 parcels, many of those with houses on them.
"This is a huge concern for my constituents," Deming said. "This has been talked about for years and they have been wondering when is this going to take place, is this going to take place, the biggest question has always been funding."
Engineers estimate widening Popp's Ferry Road and building the new bridge will come at a price tag of more than $100 million.
"Funding is a big problem, it's always been a big problem with getting a large project like this," Nichols said. "But we want to be in a position if funding does become available that we have a project ready to go."
So the question on everyone's mind, when will the bridge be built, is still as uncertain as ever.
Engineer Dax Alexander said, "I think you are probably in excess of ten years. I think at least five years out to complete any first phase whatever that may be."
If and when money is in place for the new bridge, Alexander said it could take two to three years to build, but they will keep the old bridge open during construction.