Ferry Proposed For Drivers Crossing The Bay Of St. Louis

A ferry boat service between Bay St. Louis and Henderson Point could make life a little easier for Hancock County motorists. Congressman Gene Taylor announced earlier this week the idea was being explored.

The State Department of Transportation is scheduled to award the bids on rebuilding the Bay Bridge later this month, that's the good news. The bad news is the first two lanes of the four lane bridge won't be ready for drivers for at least 18 months.

"That's a long time between getting across the Bay, for people who need a quicker way. Right now it takes people on average 45 minutes to 50 minutes to get over to Gulfport," said Bay St. Louis Community Development Director Buz Olsen.

I-10 is currently the only way to get from Hancock County to Harrison County. The plan is to ferry cars from the beach, at the end of Washington Street in Bay St. Louis, over to property near the Baptist Assembly Resort in Henderson Point.

Olsen told WLOX NEWS, "The logistics of it and the cost of it is now being worked out with M-DOT who will probably be the financing mechanism for the project itself."

The hope is it would be a free service to motorists, as well as an economic boost for the Bay.

"We look at it as not only getting people to their destination, to either work or whatever. That it would also be a good tourist attraction for people who want to come over to Bay St. Louis and still enjoy our restaurants, which are getting back up," Olsen said.

Solveig Wells owns a summer home not far from the Bay Bridge.

"I think it's a great idea as long as the ferry was big enough to accommodate a good number of cars, cause you hate to think about wait times." Wells said.

Out of state relief workers are also excited about the ferry idea.

"I think it would be a wonderful idea because it would cut off a lot of travel time. I know that we have a base in Pass Christian right now and we also have one in Waveland. So for us, back and forth, it takes 40 minutes or more depending on what's going on traffic wise. It would save us time that we could spend helping people in the area to rebuild," Judy Keller said.

The Mississippi Department of Transportation is in the process of determining if the ferry boat idea can become a reality. M-DOT leaders hope to know something within the next two months.

by Al Showers