It's getting down to the wire for workers trying to get the Bay St. Louis Bridge ready to open. On Tuesday crews were busy putting the finishing touches on getting two lanes of traffic open by Thursday.
Officials say there are road markings that must be painted and signs to put up. The speed limit on the bridge will be 35 miles per hour. The bridge will not be open for pedestrians yet.
On Tuesday, MDOT drove several reporters and community leaders across the new bridge and I was one of them.
We were a group of mostly journalists and people who make their living through communication. Yet for the first several minutes into our ride over St. Louis Bay, no one said a word. As I looked over the water, my mind kept flashing back to 21 months earlier just after Hurricane Katrina. Then the view wasn't so pretty. Now, even with construction cranes and workers, the view was impressive.
During the ride, I asked fellow passenger Colleen Kershaw her thoughts.
"I'm really moved," she said. "This is a big day for us."
Kershaw works with the Hancock County Chamber of Commerce and lives in Long Beach. Like so many, she looks forward to making this drive to and from Hancock County.
"My son attends St. Stanislaus," she said. "I've been looking forward to this day for many months."
Less drive time will be nice but for Kershaw and thousands of others, the new bridge shows that though our community has a long way to go but that together South Mississippi will overcome the obstacles and come out on the other side.
Kershaw said, "I think it's a huge step for the entire coast and the rebuilding effort. Finally bridging that gap between our cities is going to bring everyone together again."
Reporters don't usually, see stories as good or bad, but there was no denying for any of us, our first ride across the Bay bridge was special and truly good news.
Towards the end of trip, I shared my thoughts with my traveling companions.
"We've been through so much," I said. "Today feels like a victory."
Here's a rundown of events scheduled for Thursday:
First there will be a dedication ceremony at 2 p.m. on the Bay St. Louis side of the bridge which you can watch live on our web site, WLOX.com.
At 3:30 p.m. dozens of classic cars will ride across the bridge from Henderson Point to Bay St. Louis.
At 4:00 p.m. Bridge Fest begins at the Bay-Waveland Yacht Club featuring dozens of vendors and live music.