Biloxi Opens Popp's Ferry Bridge Two Months Early

It's was day almost four months in the making. The Popp's Ferry Bridge opened Friday, two months ahead of schedule.

Twenty thousand drivers used the bridge daily before Katrina tossed portions of the structure around like toys.

The excitement began early when a crowd gathered to witness the moment when the first cars rolled across.

"Waiting for the bridge to be open, we wanted to be the first ones, we're in support of this bridge opening up, we cannot wait," Biloxi resident Paula Rossi said.

The excitement built as Paula Rossi and her husband parked in a prime spot, eager to roll across the Popp's Ferry Bridge.

"Getting back to normal. Highway 90 opening and the bridge opening and the first casino, I mean it all just makes you feel like you're alive again," Biloxi resident Charles Whipp said.

At exactly 10am, Mayor A.J. Holloway told the crowd how happy he was to see so much progress.

"And how happy I am for the City of Biloxi to have another milestone this week. It's been a good week for Biloxi, coming back from Katrina," Holloway said.

Then the mayor cut the ribbon and signaled for drivers to start their engines.

"It's going to be a Christmas present we'll never forget," Ward 6 alderman Ed Gemmill said. "It's the most wonderful present the City of Biloxi could have."

Key Constructors finished the job two months early.

"Right after we got the contract, we kept getting word that we couldn't do it, and I don't like being told I can't do it," Rick Webster with Key Constructors said.

The contractor received a $500,000 bonus for beating the February deadline.

"When the mayor said 100 days, I didn't believe him. I do now," MDOT Director Wayne Brown said.

The Federal Highway Administration paid for the $7.6 million contract.

The company had to put back or replace more than 20 sections of the bridge, replace the caps over the pilings, and fix the electric and hydraulic system.

The company still needs to repair the railing along the pedestrian sidewalk. They hope to finish that part of the project by the end of January.