In prior years, Biloxi Police Department Capt. Brian Dykes said that between 15,000-30,000 people would come to the city.
Usually, the department would rely on hotel bookings to get an estimate on how many people were coming to the city. However, Dykes said using that method recently has been difficult.
“We used to go by how many rooms were rented and what was the average for the week prior and after the event. You can easily see a spike. However, ever since the mask mandate has been lifted, all of the hotels in the city of Biloxi have been booked solid every single weekend since then. It’s hard for us to get a handle on how many people are coming so we’re just going to prepare,” Dykes said.
Dykes explained that the department has a “tipping-point plan” that includes different methods of controlling traffic.
“Once traffic begins to slow, we’ll start closing places where people slow down to turn. Then, as traffic slows even further, then we’ll take over intersections and using manual signals. If it slows even further or to a stop, then what we do is have a lane where only emergency vehicles can travel on it,” he said. “Basically, Highway 90 will be only one lane eastbound and one lane westbound. Then, if things continue to worsen, then what we do is open up either end of the city and then force traffic out. It’s basically flushing people to either side, but that’s only used in extreme measures.”
Dykes said the barricades were placed in areas along the beach to control foot traffic and avoid congestion.
“Highway 90 is one of the busiest highways in the country. During spring break, you would see people wander into the street more while causing traffic to get worse. There’s so much going on. It’s dark, people may be talking with their friend and not paying attention, then next thing you know they’re in the street,” he said.
People who live along Highway 90 in the Briarfield area, Maison D’Orleans apartments and Grande View apartments will be given a neighborhood pass so it’s easier to identify residents.
Ward 5 Councilman Paul Tisdale said that the pass helps police know who to let on detour routes in case police close certain roads because of traffic.
“If traffic really starts stacking up then police will make a decision to barricade Pinegrove Avenue, Briarfield Avenue and the road leading to Grande View apartments. That means that those residents have no way out unless they use the Coliseum shortcut. There’s a gate at the north end of Pinegrove and as long as they have these passes on their dash, then they’ll be waved through to leave and come out Beauvoir Road or to enter when returning to Beauvoir Road back to their residences,” Tisdale said.
“We want everyone to come out and have fun, we encourage that,” Dykes said. “All you have to do is follow the rules, that’s all you have to do. If we all follow the rules then we can all have a great time.”
Dykes said that there will be more than 118 officers in the area to make sure everything is in order.