JACKSON COUNTY, Miss. (WLOX) - Drivers in Ocean Springs have one week to get their detour plans ready.
The Mississippi Department of Transportation announced the Ft. Bayou Bridge on Highway 609 will close March 14 at 10 p.m.
The bridge is expected to be closed for 45 days as the Mississippi Department of Transportation completes a $20 million repair project.
During the 45-day closure, crews will work to replace the bridge shafts. This means drivers will have to take an alternate route when trying to access the interstate from downtown Ocean Springs and vice versa.
A detour will be in place using I-10, I-110 and Hwy. 57. Here is a detour map created by MDOT showing the two detour options.
“We ask the traveling public to be patient throughout this closure,” said Commissioner Tom King, Southern Transportation District. “Once the bridge is closed I-10, I-110 and State Route 57 will see an influx of traffic, so please be mindful and give yourself enough time to get to your destination safely.”
This ongoing $20 million bridge repair project will rehabilitate and upgrade the drawbridge on Hwy. 609. During the closure, crews will be working to replace the bridge shafts. The bridge will also be repainted.
“This is the first major maintenance project on the drawbridge in the last nearly 40 years,” said King. “We know this closure will impact a lot of people not just in Jackson County, but in surrounding counties as well, but if everyone works together through these 45 days, this project can help ensure this bridge lasts another 40 years.”
Business owners in downtown Ocean Springs say they hope this won’t impact their businesses.
“I have a feeling that it will probably have some effect on business,” said Alma White, the owner of the downtown boutique Leather and Pearls. “However, you know we’ve got Highway 57. We’ve got Biloxi coming from casinos. I get a lot of business from that. I’m hoping a minimal amount of business will be lost, but also, if it’s going to save people’s lives, it’s a must have. So, let’s just bite the bullet and get her done. We’ll be alright, we always are in Ocean Springs.”
A customer shopping at White’s boutique agreed, saying it won’t deter them from coming downtown.
“I think the bridge work is necessary,” said Ethel Walsh. “I think all of our bridges need to be safer... Alternate routes are the way to go.”
The goal is to have it reopened by the end of April. The project, which was awarded to C.E.C., Inc., of Lafayette, La., is expected to be entirely completed in late 2021.