Letter Could Delay New Bridge Construction

Mayor Connie Moran believes the city has been given a lot of misinformation by M-DOT when it comes to a proposed six lane bridge, plus four breakdown lanes, between Biloxi and Ocean Springs.

That's why she says she sent a letter to the Federal Highway Administration, which would fund the project.

She believes more justification is needed for a six-lane bridge as opposed to the desired four lanes.

"What I asked for was a copy of their data, of their analysis with the traffic counts and the growth figures that they used in order to justify a 6-lane bridge. I would like to have an independent study done which could just take a day from two separate firms to see if indeed that is something that is justified. Up to this point, we haven't seen any numbers. It's been more of a "trust me" type of game shall we say and I really feel a lot more confident relying on the numbers," said Moran.

But Mayor Moran's confidence seems to worry Ocean Springs alderman Matt McDonnell.

He was one of three alderman out of seven who voted not to send that letter, because he says South Mississippi cannot afford to possibly lose the funding.

"There is an opportunity there for us to get this bridge back and built with federal money and if we miss that opportunity it could be catastrophic not only to Ocean Springs as well as Biloxi but to the entire Gulf Coast," said McDonnell.

McDonnell believes the debate over the number of lanes is the driving force behind the letter, which could delay the construction of the new bridge.

But he says it should be about the thousands of people who depend on this bridge to make a living everyday.

Biloxi Mayor A.J. Holloway agrees.

"It's just a shame that somebody can be so selfish in my opinion. This is for the people. That's who we need to be worrying about, not some 24-feet. You know, that doesn't make sense to me," said Holloway.

But what Mayor Holloway sees as selfishness, Mayor Moran sees as simply good, honest business.

"I'm not interested in stalling the project. I am interested in making sure that the people have the facts and that we build a bridge that makes sense, that's put up very quickly, and as cost effectively as possible," said Moran.

"This would have very serious implications for the coast. If the mayor's move is successful, this could put the bridge project back for several years,"said MDOT executive director Butch Brown.

Mayor Moran calls his statement "a chicken little scare tactic."