Bay Bridge Traffic Brings More Business To Small Shops

Ever since cars started crossing over the new bridge, traffic on Highway 90 has picked up tremendously. But you'd be hard pressed to find any business owner to complain about it. They depend on traffic.

Doris Felder co-owns a home furnishings shop on Highway 90. Just this morning, she's already had three customers drive over from the Pass.

"A lot of people I've never seen before are coming across, that wouldn't go around on the interstate to get here. They're all coming now. So I've met a lot of neat people and they're doing a lot of shopping," Felder said.

The bridge has also given the gift shop next door a financial boost.

"The impact on my business has been an enormous increase from the other side of the bridge, all the way from Ocean Springs, Pass Christian, Long Beach. Those have been my customers for the past three weeks. Local customers, I think, have actually taken a chance to go to the other side of the bridge. I haven't seen as much of them in the past three weeks," owner Jay Macaniff said.

"From a financial stand point, I feel like I'm realizing my advertising that I made while the bridge was closed. To announce that we were over here in Bay St. Louis. People have mentioned my ads that they've seen."

Traffic from the bridge has had a similar impact on shop owners in Old Town Bay St. Louis.

"We've also got a lot of customers from New Orleans, Mandaville, Covington who said they were coming over now that they can drive straight on across the bridge and go on down to Biloxi. So we've seen traffic from both ways because of the bridge," downtown shop owner Pam Collins said.

Traffic, they say, is vital to the economic recovery of Hancock County.

Shop owners say the annual Our Lady Of The Gulf Crab Festival in July always brings thousands of people to the downtown area. They're hoping, since the bridge is open, this year's event will draw record crowds.