Work Underway To Rebuild Bay St. Louis Bridge

Construction crews are playing an intense game of beat the clock, trying to replace the bridge over the Bay of St. Louis that Katrina took away.

"We're remaining on the schedule we anticipated and we hope to beat it," project superintendent Frank Flannelly said.

The old bridge stood about 30 feet tall. The new bridge, at its highest point, will tower at 85 feet high. The four lane bridge will include a bike and pedestrian path, plus two emergency lanes.

"Right now we're demolishing the old bridge. And we're in the process of opening up the channel so that while we're demolishing the old bridge, we can be driving pilings and erecting the new bridge at the same time. So we'll be passing each other with the new structure as they demolish the old."

Repairs to the Bay Bridge following Hurricane Camille cost about $9.2 million. Replacing the entire bridge following Katrina's damage will cost a whopping $260 million. But the cost isn't what bothers most drivers, who are now forced to travel up to 50 minutes to go around the bridge.

"It's a tremendous inconvenience. It probably triples my ride into Bay St. Louis," Henderson Point Resident Clifford Green said.

"I have a lot of friends over in Bay St. Louis," Pass Christian resident Robert Gillaspie said. "You have to go all the way through Delisle, I-10 to 603, and back down, then come back up. So rather than do that, I just don't go over there that much. In fact, I haven't been over there in about three months."

To weary motorists, the sounds of busy construction crews are a sign of hope.

"A better feeling knowing that something's happening and knowing we're that much closer to having the bridge back," Green said.

Some temporary relief is in the works for motorists now forced to travel around the bridge. Ferry boat service is being studied for the area.

by Al Showers