Mayor Raises Concerns About Ocean Springs Bridge Proposal

Just about everywhere you turn in Ocean Springs, you'll find frustrated drivers.

When asked to describe the traffic, one driver laughed and said, "It's horrendous, really."

It's even worse with no easy access into Harrison County. Hurricane Katrina left the Biloxi-Ocean Springs Bridge battered and beaten, and some 50,000 drivers dealing with road-blocks and detours.

"There's only one way into Biloxi and it takes me 2 and a half hours to get out of Biloxi in the evenings. So it's been rough," said one woman.

"If you want to get to Biloxi, you have to go all the way to I-110," said another driver.

The State Transportation Department has drawn up preliminary plans for a new six-lane high-rise over the Biloxi Bay. Ocean Springs Mayor Connie Moran says the bridge would come down just east of the railroad overpass, which would make it harder for drivers to get on and off the structure.

"It would be 30 feet above the water at the bank. It practically cuts off the entire, old Ocean Springs neighborhood," said Mayor Moran.

Another concern is the loss of green space.

"Not only is it inconvenient, we end up with concrete spaghetti. That's really not the concept that we wish to prevail in the end for Ocean Springs," said the mayor.

Moran is also worried about the proposed traffic light at the end of the bridge.

"When people are sailing down the bridge on six lanes, and you go up over the bridge and then boom, you have to stop," Moran said.

Mayor Moran has asked MDOT to revise the plans and come back with another proposal. Both sides are also working on a temporary solution until the new bridge is built. One idea is to provide a ferry service for both cars and pedestrians that will be based near the foot of the current bridge.

"I am very pleased and happy that MDOT did not waste any time in trying to at least bring some plan on the forefront. I'm sure we can try to work out something," Mayor Moran said.

MDOT hopes to hire a designer and contractor for the bridge by early December. One span could open in late 2006. The entire project should be done by the summer of 2007.

By: Trang Pham-Bui