MOSS POINT, MS (WLOX) - The ribbon is cut, and the new Dantzler Street bridge is ready for a test drive.
The Pascagoula River Audubon Center is a few hundred feet away, and tour boats from the center can now easily pass under the higher bridge.
"If this bridge had not been built, the Audubon would not be here today. That was a necessity, that we had to raise it at one time, at least 18-inches. We found out at rising tide, it needed to be three feet," Jackson County supervisor Melton Harris explained.
Audubon Center officials concur, including director Mark LaSalle.
"The National Audubon Society approves those business plans, and without this support up front - and the commitment from these parties - we wouldn't have built this facility here," LaSalle noted.
The new bridge, which was built during the last year, cost $1.2 million to build.
"We had to use several pots of money to build the bridge because of the cost, and the bulk of it came from the road department funds, the county funds," said Brian Fulton, Jackson County Administrator. "We did have some help from the Department of Marine Resources, a couple of pots of money they had including tidelands."
In addition to helping the operation of the Audubon Center, and improving traffic flow on the riverfront in Moss Point, the bridge also represents strength in the event of troubled times.
"The bridge is pre-cast concrete, both the deck and the pilings," added Bob Diamond, engineer. "So therefore, it's going to be able to withstand the weather, the strength of storm surges."
Moss Point Mayor Billy Broomfield added, "This is a win-win for not just the Audubon Center, the city of Moss Point, and Jackson County, but the entire state of Mississippi. This is a good day."
County officials estimate the Audubon Center will draw as many as 10,000 tourists a year, many of them taking a river tour on boats traveling under the new bridge.