BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - There have been talks of rebuilding the Popps Ferry Bridge for quite some time now, but the major question, is when will the construction begin?
Tuesday afternoon, project engineers and Biloxi city leaders met to discuss what the next steps will be in getting the ball rolling. One hundred eighteen million dollars is how much it's going to cost to rebuild the Popps Ferry Road bridge bigger and better.
"What we're talking about doing is building essentially a local bridge here that has to cover the Bay of Biloxi. So it's a pretty big endeavor and the local government just does not have the funding for it," said Vincent Creel who is the Public Affairs Manager for the City of Biloxi.
Right now, the city has $3,500,000 available for the project, but another $2,500,000 is needed to even begin the first step, which is acquiring property.
"We want to make sure that we're fair to everyone of those homeowners that are in the route, in the path of this bridge. That is a very time consuming process when you're using federal money to buy property," said Creel.
Ben Smith who is the project engineer says there is a lot of property left to acquire, before they can begin.
"There are approximately 76 individual residences that we will be impacting with the project. Some will be acquiring the entire home. Some will be just strips of land along the current road," said Smith.
In order to receive federal funding, Creel says the city will explain to the federal government that the Popps Ferry Bridge is one of only three evacuation routes during a hurricane.
"Whenever we're talking about evacuations for hurricanes, we have to open that bridge right now which means that vehicular traffic comes to a standstill," said Creel.
The design is similar to the Biloxi-Ocean Springs Bridge. It will be what is known as a "fixed span" bridge. So there will no longer be a draw to stop the flow of traffic. This is good news for drivers, but still, the project is years away from completion.
"In a best case scenario, if the $118,000,000 was available today, the engineers are saying you're still looking at seven years," said Creel.
In the meantime, they do plan to host meetings for residents of Anatole Bay, La Bonne Terre, and local business owners to keep them informed of the progress.