Biloxi Council to take up Popp's Ferry Bridge

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Engineers who have been studying options to improve or replace the Popp's Ferry Bridge in west Biloxi will make a recommendation for the best option to the City Council during a special meeting on Tuesday at 11 a.m. at City Hall.

Representatives of Brown & Mitchell, Neel-Schaffer and Pickering will present results of the environmental assessment, which is a preliminary analysis to identify any issues to be addressed before the project continues. The groups held public input meetings in March.

The initiative to improve or replace the Popp's Ferry Bridge actually began in March 2004, when Mayor A.J. Holloway lobbied Congress for $2 million in funding. That included the cost of the environmental assessment to identify options to improve the flow of traffic.

On average, about 20,000 vehicles a day cross the Popp's Ferry Bridge. But vehicular traffic is interrupted about 10 times a day when the bridge's span is raised to allow marine traffic to pass. The bridge opens as many as 24 times a day during evacuations, when marine vessels seek safer harborage up river.

"Our goal is to move vehicular and marine traffic efficiently, safer and with less interruptions," Holloway said. "We want a bridge that's going to carry us well into the future."

Among the options being considered: build a new high-rise bridge without a draw; build a new high-rise bridge with a draw; or build a twin span bridge at a higher elevation and raise the elevation on the existing bridge.

Engineers will make their recommendation on Tuesday.

"One important thing that people should know is that we are at least five to seven years away from any construction," Holloway said, "We're following federal guidelines with the goal of having this bridge federally funded. Tuesday's presentation brings us one step closer."