HAPPENING TONIGHT: Road closures next step in Gulfport Tramway project
GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - The next major step is happening this week in Gulfport’s Highway 90 Tramway project. Crews will be installing tub girders beginning Thursday night. They are large metal spans that will connect to pylons on the north and south side of the roadway.
Mississippi Department of Transportation announced lane closures of Beach Boulevard between Highway 49 and 15th Avenue while that work happens.
“It’s a big deal. It’s the biggest technical part of the project,” said Kevin Coggin, the executive director of Coast Transit Authority. “Our goal is to get all of our work done in one night. Once these metal spans get set, we have to pour concrete on top, so there will be some additional lane closures at night.”
Those additional lane closures will happen on Jan. 25, Jan. 30, and Feb. 2. It is a necessary step in bringing this major development to life.
“It’s part of a larger vision with everything being a catalyst for the continued growth of downtown,” said Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes. “With the aquarium being the start of all that, we knew we needed a connection into Jones Park.”
Jeff Clark, PR and Communications Manager for the Mississippi Aquarium, told WLOX News that the tramway will be a game changer for both the aquarium and the city.
“People will be able to come to the aquarium, have a good time with their families, then walk over to Jones Park and vice versa,” Clark said. “The city always has events going on at Jones Park, so people can go to Jones Park during the day and then walk over and come to the aquarium. It’s a win-win for everyone.”
At the heart of this project is safety concerns. Pedestrians attending events at Jones Park are often forced to cross Highway 90 at one of the busiest intersections.
“More and more people, as we grow as a community, are using the boardwalk, the beaches, with the whole access component,” Hewes said. “Being that it is a high-traffic area from a vehicular and pedestrian standpoint, that’s the perfect spot for it.”
Coast Transit Authority told WLOX News the tramway is on budget and ahead of schedule. Per the project’s contract, it must be built to completion by April 2024. According to Coggin, the tramway could be finished as early as February 2024.
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