Popp’s Ferry Bridgework aimed at stopping malfunctions

Published: Jun. 24, 2021 at 3:04 PM CDT
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BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - The Popp’s Ferry Bridge is now back in satisfactory working order after crews worked on the draw for six hours Thursday to get things back into alignment.

“The bridge has been hit over the ages about four times, and it’s gradually gotten out of alignment,” said Larry Jones, bridge tender. “It’s about an inch and a half or an inch and a quarter out of alignment.”

Jones also said it’s gotten worse since the last time the bridge was hit by a barge in July, 2020.

“Being out of alignment, it puts that lock in a bind, and our motors are not strong enough to draw it, and we have to manipulate the bridge up and down to get that lock out,” Jones added. “If you give it enough time it will eventually pull out but it’s real slow getting to it.”

That’s why the bridge was shut down Thursday and crews worked to re-align the draw. Otherwise, more problems would arise with a 43-year-old mechanism that’s been opening, closing, malfunctioning, and causing traffic delays and near accidents.

“We’ve got a red light that’s supposed to stop traffic. They just run it and you have to watch out when you land the gate arms down because they’ll run the red light and run into your gate,” he said.

Then there’s the threat from down below. Bridge tender Jennifer Hudson was on duty during the last bridge hit a year ago, and since then she said anytime she’s opened the draw, she holds her breath.

“It’s not my fault, you know, that the bridge has something wrong with it. but people call up here asking what’s wrong, I try to tell them, and some of them are nice, and some of them are not nice, but I’m still nice to them,” Hudson said.

Jennifer and others hope after this latest repair job, the phone calls will stop, and the draw will work correctly.

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