HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Bids will likely go out next month for the $10 million project to build a new Lorraine Road bridge over the Biloxi River. And construction on that new bridge span could begin by the end of this year.
The old concrete and wooden bridge is beginning to show its age. It was just over a year ago, the bridge was closed to traffic for some four months because of safety concerns. Though it was re-opened after a few minor repairs, the long term solution is building a new bridge.
"With the age and condition of the bridge, nothing of any immediate concern, but with the age of it, yeah we are looking to get it replaced as soon as possible, with a much better structure," said Harrison County Road Manager Russell Weatherly.
Building a new span involves funding from and cooperation between three local governments: Biloxi, Gulfport, and Harrison County.
"It is always challenging, it was challenging for DeBuys Road," said County Supervisor Connie Rockco.
Supervisor Rockco said all three governments recognize the significance and necessity of a new bridge, especially given the increasing traffic count.
"And as the population continues to grow north of I-10, in the Woolmarket area, it's going to be a very vital piece of transportation in connecting 605 and I-10," she explained.
The good news for drivers is that the old bridge will remain open while the new span is being constructed.
You'll recall in August of last year, a team of engineers inspected the old span to determine its safety. Volkert Engineering found no critical problems that would require keeping the bridge closed to traffic. It was re-opened following some minor repairs and new guard rails.
Now, if things go as planned, a new span will soon be going up just south of the old bridge.
"Hopefully, by the end of the year, we may actually see some dirt being moved around," said Weatherly.
Drivers will certainly be happy with a smoother, safer ride over the river. Again, construction could begin by late this year and will last for 12 to 18 months.