Law enforcement plans for Black Spring Break traffic

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - There may be two weekends of Black Spring Break on the Mississippi Gulf Coast next month. Social media is promoting April 11-13 and April 18-20 for spring break activities here.

But whichever weekend draws the crowd; coast law enforcement is ready to handle the traffic.

Dealing with heavy traffic, especially on Highway 90, is the biggest challenge facing law enforcement. Police have been tweaking their traffic control plan since the first Black Spring Break discovered Biloxi in the year 2000.

"We have a standard traffic control plan and usually traffic is the problem that we have. So, we have a standard traffic plan and we can go to different levels on that plan," said Biloxi Police Chief John Miller.

Last year, traffic kept moving, for the most part.  Chief Miller said the real test usually begins on Saturday afternoon.

"That's when everybody pours in and it's bumper to bumper. And we feel if we can keep it moving and there's no gridlock, we feel like we've accomplished something," said Chief Miller.

The traffic plan has various levels of police direction from barricades blocking turn lanes, all the way to venting, which means forcing the beachfront traffic up to the interstate.

"We hate to do that, but when traffic gets to the point we believe it's about to be gridlock, we have no choice but to do that," said Chief Miller.

As in years past, the sheriff's department will have its headquarters at Edgewater Mall. It's a centralized location, plus it overlooks one of the busiest spots on the beach.

"Traffic is the main concern. You know, we've had it in the past where traffic flow has stopped and there was gridlock. It created a whole variety of problems for the coast," said Major Tony Sauro with the Harrison County Sheriff's Department.

As with most years, the big unknown is: How many visitors should we expect?

"We have no idea. We just have to prepare the best we can," said Chief Miller.

"For any large amount of traffic, you need a traffic plan. So when congestion starts, you can filter it out," said Major Sauro.

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