O.S. Okays Six Lane Bridge

While pieces of the hurricane damaged Ocean Springs bridge sat in the back bay, the city repeatedly fought MDOT's efforts to replace the debris with a wider bridge. Mayor Connie Moran led the charge against the bridge.

"We did what we could," Moran said. "But the Federal Highway Administration has said clearly it's MDOT's call on this project. And they can pretty much do what they like."

MDOT proposed building a six lane bridge between Ocean Springs and Biloxi. At a Thursday night board meeting, five of six Ocean Springs aldermen supported six lane bridge concept. Ward four aldermen Greg Denyer was one of the supporters.

"Hopefully it will be a beautiful bridge," he said. "And it will define Ocean Springs as a gateway into this town from Biloxi."

Over the last four months, Ocean Springs's position on the size of the bridge has had its share of detours and roadblocks. At first, the city okayed the MDOT plan, because the mayor got lighting and landscaping added to the project. But once city leaders saw charette designs, they rescinded their support, saying six lanes was just too big for their small town.

Thursday night, the six lane bridge got Ocean Springs' blessing again.

"It's time to move forward," the mayor admitted. "I do think the bridge is still overkill. But it's MDOT's call. And the way they're structured in the state of Mississippi, they're not accountable to any other agency or to the governor. So they can do what they like."

Mayor Moran based her opposition to the bigger bridge on traffic projections that she said didn't justify six lanes. But in a January 9, 2006 letter from the Federal Highway Administration, the mayor was told six lanes are needed.

"We believe that the traffic analysis that MDOT has provided is an appropriate analysis and adequately supports the need for a six lane bridge," division administrator Andrew Hughes wrote.

MDOT should know by January 24th who's going to remove the broken bridge, and then replace it with a six lane roadway.