Businesses frustrated with extension of Ft. Bayou Bridge closure

Businesses frustrated with extension of Ft. Bayou Bridge closure

OCEAN SPRINGS, Miss. (WLOX) - Frustrations are growing after MDOT announced the Fort Bayou Bridge won’t reopen until May 21.

Some local businesses in the area have been struggling since the closure began.

The work continues on the Fort Bayou Bridge even on a miserably wet and dreary day. Many continue to find the wrong way to turn around, but perhaps businesses are the ones hurting the most from the extended bridgework.

“Oh, it put a big dent in our income,” said Ronnie Hamilton, general manager of Aunt Jenny’s Catfish Restaurant and Anthony’s Steak & Seafood.

Lent is usually one of the busiest times of the year for Aunt Jenny’s and Anthony’s, but over the last few weeks, the restaurant has had a few more open tables.

However, this isn’t the first battle some of these businesses have fought this year.

“Everything we have gone through in the past year and a half. You got COVID. We had hurricane threats, and now the bridge closure and it being extended. It’s pretty disheartening, but we’re going to make it,” Hamilton said.

That belief is shared by a few businesses in downtown Ocean Springs.

“We’re still doing good, people are still coming down but it is just not the normal traffic that was anticipated,” said Fernando Martinez, owner of Spice & Tea Merchants. “We are really hoping they can get it done as quickly as possible.”

Businesses are waiting for when customers from north of the bridge can once again find their way into the store.

Even when the bridge reopens in May, traffic will remain in a two-lane configuration for additional work on the drawbridge.

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