State Transportation officials say to be able to open two lanes of the Biloxi bridge traffic in November, they must first complete three or four projects considered to be major challenges. Now MDOT officials are pleased to say, "One down."
That major breakthrough came early Wednesday morning, when crews finished installing the Navigational span. Boats that pass underneath the new Biloxi Bridge will travel through those girders.
"We've got one of the major challenges that we've undertaken and accomplished," said District Area Engineer Kelly Castleberry.
MDOT officials say when it comes to building a bridge with a 95 foot clearance, some aspects are more challenging than others.
"Right now we have set the main navigation channel girders and that's a pretty important milestone for this project because that's the tallest part of the bridge, the highest part of the bridge. That's pretty difficult work," said Castleberry. "Now that we've got this work out of the way we can start matching up to it."
Crews are working at both ends of the Biloxi bridge and plan to meet in the middle.
Castleberry said, "You have a crew that's working pretty much, primarily on the Biloxi side, a crew in the navigation channel side and then a crew on the Ocean Springs side. You have additional crews that are working the CSX overpass."
Crews have laid 2,000 to 3,000 feet of the deck. MDOT officials say that should make the work go faster since now fewer materials have to be brought in by barge.
"We've got construction traffic on the bridge which is the concrete trucks and the material supplies that are delivering to the project site," said Castleberry. "It makes it a lot easier to deliver material to the site."
Also on the Biloxi side, crews are using molds to construct the side barrier. Officials say this "Texas Style" design has openings that give drivers a better view of the water.
"It has a little different aesthetic value than our typical New Jersey style that we pour on most standard bridges," Castleberry said. "It takes a little more time to use this type of rail opposed to a slip form rail but it does have a nice feature."
MDOT officials say they still have several more major challenges including tying in all the sections of the bridge and building the CSX overpass.