GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Thousands of Coast motorists are breathing easy now that the Wilkes Bridge on Cowan-Lorraine Road has re-opened.
The 12-hour closure caused by electrical problems created a nightmare during rush hour traffic; forcing drivers to find a detour. Mississippi Department of Transportation crews worked late into the night, and early into the morning, to find the problem.
"Going from one end to the other, testing all the electrical components and electrical systems, tracing wires. It was very thorough, very time consuming," said MDOT assistant maintenance engineer Anthony Ladd. "But they were able to find the problem, which was a short in the line."
Following relatively simple fix, the bridge re-opened to traffic around 3 a.m.
The roughly 15-year-old bridge relies not only on a complex electrical system, but also hydraulic and mechanical systems.
"Kind of one of those things you've just got to jump in with both feet first and just work your way through it," said Ladd. "And that's exactly what our guys did."
With more than 33,000 cars crossing the bridge each day, the structure all rises frequently to let boats through the industrial seaway.
"Out of the three drawbridges that we maintain, that bridge is by far our busiest," added Ladd.
MDOT crews are well aware of the importance of keeping the busy bridge operating for both motorists and maritime traffic. But, occasionally, something as simple as an electrical short can interfere.
"When there is a problem, everybody can notice it, that's for sure. But most of the time, it is reliable."