Keesler Will Open Judge Sekul Gate To Reduce Traffic Mess

Westbound Highway 90 near Keesler had at least a two-mile back-up Wednesday morning. Parts of southbound I-110 had cars sitting in traffic jams for almost an hour. As a result, plenty of commuters showed up late to work.

It was all due to ultra-tight security at Keesler Air Force Base's main gate. And that was the direct result of Tuesday's terrorist attacks.

Everywhere you looked in east Biloxi, you saw the same thing. Cars barely moved. One driver had an appointment at the Keesler Medical Center. "I got in line at 6:05 at the lighthouse," he said. "And it's now 7:45. That's almost 1:40. And I'm not even on base yet."

Keesler Air Force Base was at the center of the morning traffic jams. Tuesday's terrorist attacks put all military bases on their highest alerts. So guards at Keesler's main gate thoroughly searched every car entering the facility.

Helena Banks understood the security measures. But she felt the traffic gridlock was "terrible. Not that I'm rushing to get to work. But I would like to get out of the traffic. I don't like sitting here with my gas just burning."

It took 30 minutes just to get from Highway 90 to the traffic light in front of the base. Creeping up White Avenue gave some drivers a chance to read the newspaper.

A wider view of the area gave people an idea of just how many cars got caught in the morning mess. Not only was westbound Highway 90 a parking lot, so was southbound I-110.

By 12:00, the traffic congestion choking the streets near Keesler Air Force Base disappeared. If it returns in the morning, Biloxi police are urging drivers caught in the mess to leave even earlier, and to stay out of the intersections when traffic lights turn red.

"We need to get to work," Biloxi assistant police chief Bruce Dunagan said. "And we've got to pick up the kids. But everybody else has the same problems. So just be patient."

On Wednesday, Keesler's security status level was dropped from Delta to Charlie. However, security entering the base will remain very tight. So if you're going to the base, you can expect more car searches and more traffic delays.