BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - By 9:30 Monday night, the barricades were up, as well as signs, to let people know I-110 was closed until 5 a.m. Tuesday.
Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) officials say the closure is necessary to begin the second and final phase of the $8.2 million renovation project. Officials say this part of the projects involves fixing the locking mechanism associated with the I-110 drawbridge.
They say this project is the first major renovation work that's been done on the bridge since it was first installed 40 years ago. This phase involves fixing the part of the bridge that locks.
"We have to get inside the drawbridge. We have to renovate and renew all of the mechanical, hydraulic and electrical systems inside the drawbridge," said MDOT Project Engineer Mike Harter.
The first phase of the project involved putting up a special coating on the bridge. That's why all the machinery was sitting at the center of the drawbridge.
"A big portion of this job was to recoat the existing steel to protect it from this harsh salt water environment. That was a large part of the project that was very time consuming," said Harter.
Harter says this work will modernize the bridge and make it more reliable.
An estimated 33,000 vehicles travel over I-110 each day. The drivers WLOX News spoke to say this closure is really going to impact their commute.
"I take I-110 everyday. I take my husband to work. We go to Gulfport all the time. I-110 is the main thing that I take," said Stephanie Neely.
"I'm going to have to go all the way to Ocean Springs, go up, and then come back down. You know? Or go all the way to Popp's Ferry and circle around," said Christopher Steinwinder.
Some drivers were a little more understanding.
"I think it's going to be a little bit of an inconvenience to people, but if they are making improvements on it, I don't mind it at all," said Jeremy Pickich.
MDOT officials suggest drivers use alternate routes while the bridge is closed.
"We're encouraging drivers between I-10 and Highway 90 to use 605 and 609, which are exits 50 for 609 on the east side and exit 38 off of I-10 on the west side," Harter explained.
The work on I-110 is expected to be completed sometime next month.
I-110 will reopen at 5am Tuesday, and I-110 is scheduled to close again Wednesday, as well as June 15 through June 19. All the closings will be from 9:30 p.m. until 5 a.m. I-110 will remain open at the Rodriguez Street onramp for northbound traffic.