BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Biloxi will continue to use the traffic plan it implemented last year to help navigate Highway 90 during this year’s Spring Break holiday weekend.
That traffic plan is now the city’s go-to procedure for all large-scale events where there is heavy traffic.
It features multiple law enforcement agencies working together, those now all too familiar traffic cones on Highway 90 and the city traffic plan map.
Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich said the plan is in place, it works and, aside from a few tweaks, it’ll be implemented during the upcoming Spring Break weekend, which is happening Friday, April 12 through Sunday April 14.
"I think there's some places we can improve in regard to entrances and exits to Highway 90,” Gilich said. “The cones worked out well, the traffic is manageable. The plan is the plan, and that is to keep things moving and keep things safe."
The plan, when fully implemented, limits Highway 90 to righthand lanes, eastbound and westbound, with left lanes restricted to emergency vehicles. In some instances, turns are prohibited at intersections to keep traffic flowing, and, if traffic becomes gridlocked, police will “vent” traffic, forcing vehicles to travel as far away as Interstate 10.
The traffic plan is in place but what’s in a state of flux is a good estimate on just how many people will be coming to the Coast during Spring Break weekend.
“The problem with Spring Break is, you really don’t know what to expect," said Biloxi Police Chief John Miller. "We know that ticket sales are down a little bit. We know that hotels-motels are not completely booked, but that could change next weekend. So it’s very difficult to see what kind of manpower we need. The closer we get, the more will come to light. We’ll understand and get to know better.”
The police chief, like the mayor, said what is locked in place is the city’s traffic plan, despite some so-called “cone anxiety.”
“The cones have caused some concern with some people, but I think for the most part, most people have accepted it now,” Miller said. “Another thing we saw with the cones was that we actually wrote less tickets and we had less accidents while the cones were in place.”
Police will make sure traffic cones are in place before Spring Break and other events, but the lanes won’t be restricted unless they are needed.
“We’ve said all along that these plans are fluid,” Miller said. “If we see no reason to inconvenience people, we won’t. However, once we see traffic becoming an issue, we implement the plan.”
Last year, for instance, lanes were not restricted until later in the day on Friday, when traffic began increasing.
There are actually two known sites of Spring Break. One has events at the Coast Coliseum, while the other focuses on renting parking spaces in vacant fields several blocks east and west of the facility, promoted as “Park-n-Play” locations, on privately-owned property west of the Coast Coliseum.
The interest in Spring Break is driven online, especially on social media. The online sites – one has more than 105,000 followers – promote various parties at various public and private venues, under loosely organized themes of “Biloxi Black Beach,” “Black Spring Break,” “Mississippi Gulf Coast Spring Break,” “Mississippi Coast Spring Fest,” or merely “Black Beach Weekend.” For consistency, the city refers to the event as “Spring Break.”
To see more from the City of Biloxi on how they are preparing for Spring Break weekend, click HERE.