The road to improving traffic flow on Popp's Ferry Bridge will take a major step forward this week. This Friday engineers are scheduled to begin an environmental impact study, a requirement before any building plans can begin. The study will also look at traffic flow.
According to Biloxi city officials 20,000 cars use the Popp's Ferry Bridge each day and the drawbridge opens on average 10 times a day for marine traffic. City officials say that creates a safety hazard during a hurricane evacuation.
In 2004, Mayor A.J. Holloway secured $2 million from Congress to determine whether a new bridge or adding another span is the best way to keep traffic moving.
Mayor Holloway said, "Now we're getting ready to go forward with this project. Hopefully doing a new bridge on Popp's Ferry, or either a new span and maybe have to come back and heighten the other side of the bridge. Whichever way we do it, I hope we don't have to close traffic on Popp's Ferry for any length of time."
Holloway says because of the location of the channel the bridge wouldn't be very high.
"It cannot be much higher because we don't have the span to go across, but it can get up to where the coal barges will go underneath it without having to open the bridge."
Holloway says he expects it will take about 10 years to build a new bridge. But adding an additional span next to the current bridge probably wouldn't take as long. Either way, he says the cost will be about $50 million.