After weeks of the "four lane versus six lane" debate on a new Biloxi/Ocean Springs bridge, the Biloxi City Council unanimously endorsed the six lane concept Tuesday. But the vote didn't come without pleas from concerned citizens.
Opposition to a high rise, six lane span linking Ocean Springs and Biloxi came from residents of both cities and from a citizens group, who say a four lane bridge should at least be considered.
Jeff Bounds of the Mississippi Renewal Coalition said, "Do we want one six lane bridge that will take two years to build, or do we want two four lane bridges one of which can be finished in three months and the other of which will be finished in three years?"
Biloxi citizen Bones Barq said, "We ought to build this bridge back with four lanes, build it fast, immediately see what CSX is going to do with the railroad and put another four lanes over there. Now you're talking about moving traffic. We need the bridge. We need it bad, but it's got to be a win win for both cities."
That's why the Ocean Springs mayor asked her neighboring council members to rethink the idea.
"A a four lane bridge with breakdown lanes that is high rise would take care of the problem of the congestion caused by the drawbridge, as well as currently where we have no break down lanes. We want that bridge up quickly and a four lane bridge can be built faster and cheaper and it will have less negative impact, at least on our side," Mayor Connie Moran said.
The council listened, but still chose to endorse an amended bridge plan with inside and outside shoulders and sidewalks on both sides.
Ward 4 Councilman Charles Harrison said, "Frankly this isn't even our issue, it's MDOT and we don't vote on MDOT issues. We add to it. Thank God they let us add to it."
The citizens who oppose such a huge bridge say the fight isn't over until the contracts are signed and the work starts. They say they'll continue spreading the word why they think a six lane bridge is not good for Ocean Springs or Biloxi.
Mayor Moran says the Biloxi Council's vote doesn't surprise her, but she is disappointed council members won't consider other options.
MDOT Commissioner Wayne Brown says the $200 million bridge is a victory for the people who have to cross it. Brown says a contract could be awarded in January, if Congress appropriates the money before breaking for Christmas.