New Bridge Boosts Weekend Tourism

From the brand new bridge, to the streets of Ocean Springs, this is one time Hattiesburg resident Lisa Easterling was glad to be 'in traffic.'

"We wanted to go down to the beach and see the new bridge, how it's opening and how everything is looking. Haven't been there since the hurricane," Easterling said.

Though she might not buy anything at the Peter Anderson Festival, she will take back to Hattiesburg a report on the bridge.

"They always ask me, 'how is it?', 'have you been?', 'is everyone playing nice?', is it horrible?' Now I can go back Monday & tell them everything's smooth. You can cruise over to Ocean Springs; it's not problematic," Easterling said.

Ocean Springs police would agree. So far, they've not had any problems with people walking, bicycling, or skate boarding across the bridge, just the occasional speeder.

A slower speed limit is what Gulfport resident Judy McWaters loves the most.

"I do not like to go on I-10. I was looking forward to this bridge opening. I had to avoid a lot of trips because I had to go on I-10," McWaters said.

Now traffic can move freely across the bay -- driving record-breaking crowds to Ocean Spring's streets and leaving a lasting impression with visitors.

"Two people are going to tell 10 other people how nice everything was as far as coming over here," Easterling said.

As the Biloxi Bay Bridge continues to expand, Easterling believes its impact on South Mississippi's recovery will grow too.

The combination of the bridge opening and the Peter Anderson Festival were beneficial for the local economy. Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce Director Margaret Miller says the vast majority of hotels in our area were full for the weekend.