Residents, businesses excited to see Fort Bayou Bridge reopen
OCEAN SPRINGS, Miss. (WLOX) - After more than two months of being closed, workers are busy readying to reopen the Fort Bayou Bridge that connects Ocean Springs and St. Martin.
On Thursday morning, MDOT crews could be seen removing the road closure signs on the north and south sides of the Highway 609 bridge in anticipation of it reopening to traffic in the afternoon.
The bridge has been closed for a repair project since March 14 but MDOT announced Wednesday that it would open one day earlier than the expected date.
It’s a moment that residents and businesses in the area have eagerly been looking forward to.
For over nine weeks, drivers have had to detour through Ocean Springs to Highway 57 or west to Biloxi to I-110. Now, they will be able to shorten that commute.
”It’s awesome, I am so excited,” said Cassey Toney. “I want to be the first car across that bridge because it’s going to be so nice to get back to that five minute commute, rather than that 35 minute commute. I cannot wait.”
The opening is expected to help businesses on both sides of the bridge.
Tri-hard Sports reported a slight dip in the number of customers that came from north of the bridge. They are now excited to welcome back some familiar faces.
“It works both ways. People go north and south, and we are excited to have it all back, glad the engineers did such a great job getting it back up and rolling,” said Duncan Perkins, who owns the bike shop. “We are excited to see the new bridge.”
Over the last two months, MDOT crews have worked on replacing bridge shafts and repainting the bridge.
The closure not only affected businesses; it also impacted traffic throughout the city along Highway 90, at the Highway 57 ramp to get on I-10, and along I-110.
”Traffic from near the promenade or Woolmarket area, really anything north of the Fort Bayou Bridge has just been radio silent so it’s exciting that they’re opening it back up,” said Toney.
From city officials to business owners to residents and employees who drive Highway 609 daily, the excitement surrounding the bridge reopening is palpable.
“It’s been a huge inconvenience and I am super excited for it to open tomorrow because I will be able to go back and forth to Ocean Springs without having to go all the way around town,” said Jackson County resident Cassidy Owens.
All four lanes will reopen Thursday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. with a ribbon cutting ceremony on the south side of the bridge. However, while the bridge will be open to traffic, the work’s not done yet. There will still be some nightly closures in the coming months as the $20 million project is completed.
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