MDOT Ready To Rebuild Hurricane Damaged Bridges

What Hurricane Katrina did to the Biloxi Ocean Springs bridge was shocking. It buckled a roadbed that thousands of cars used everyday.

Transportation commissioner Wayne Brown said what MDOT would like to do with the bridge post Katrina could be amazing.

"Well we hope it will look good," he laughed.

Right after Katrina demolished the Biloxi Ocean Springs Bridge, MDOT started talking about rebuilding it. MDOT's plan was to remove the debris, and elevate the bridge, so drivers headed to Biloxi or Ocean Springs would have a smoother ride.

Biloxi immediately jumped on board the new bridge concept. But, Ocean Springs had its doubts. That city's mayor kept pushing for the bridge to be closer to the railroad tracks.

On Wednesday, Connie Moran ended that crusade and went along with MDOTs proposal.

"Well we certainly need a new bridge," the mayor said. "We need to have access for our commercial corridors."

Moran didn't want to see just any bridge replace the mess sitting in the water. She wanted one that enhanced the new charette designs recently proposed for Ocean Springs. And that's what she kept telling MDOT every time the agency brought up the bridge.

"Work with us," she told transportation officials. "Let's not throw all these ideas from the charette aside. Let's try to incorporate as many as we can."

For awhile, Mayor Moran opposed MDOTs plan to build a taller bridge over the same footprint that just crumbled. But after meeting with MDOT, Biloxi Mayor A.J. Holloway and representatives of the Governor's Commission on Rebuilding, she changed her mind. Moran agreed to the new bridge concept in large part because it will have landscaping, better lighting, and a bike path.

"Aesthetically, they have come through with that commitment. So I'm pleased with that," she said.

MDOT executives were just as happy to hear Ocean Springs was on board with the rebuilding project.

"The bottom line is that we're proceeding ahead," said Brown. "We're going to have two new bridges in Harrison County, extending to Jackson County and extending to Hancock County."

On Thursday, MDOT will ask contractors to submit bid proposals. The contractor with the best bid will build both the Biloxi Ocean Springs bridge and the bridge between Pass Christian and Bay St. Louis. That work could begin in December.