Coast Guard OKs new U.S. 90 bridge

Mayor A.J. Holloway notified the Biloxi City Council this afternoon that he’d just learned that the U.S. Coast Guard has approved construction of a new high-rise bridge to link Biloxi and Ocean Springs.

HGlloway, whose remarks were met with applause from the crowded City Council meeting, said that MDOT notified him shorly before the council’s 1:30 meeting that the Coast Guard said the bridge must be at least 85 feet high and 150 feet wide, and does not have to include a draw span.

“Of course,” Holloway said, “I’ve thought that this issue was resolved before, but it does sound as if things are going to move forward now.”

The Coast Guard announcement, Holloway said, should settle a months-long discussion over the bridge’s height and whether it would have a span for marine traffic. Hurricane Katrina destroyed the Biloxi-Ocean Springs bridge when the storm came ashore Aug. 29, eliminating a vital route to east Biloxi.

Holloway said Southern District Transportation Commissioner Wayne Brown planned to ask that MDOT award a contract at its Tuesday meeting, and construction on the $275 million project could begin in about 60 days.

Under Brown’s plan, Holloway said, motorists could be driving over portions of the new bridge as early as 15 months after construction begins.

“This is promising news for our recovery efforts, not only here in Biloxi but for the entire Gulf Coast,” Holloway said.

“When you consider that about 30,000 vehicles a day were having to make a long, time-consuming detour, and when you consider the price of fuel, this was creating a million-dollar a week drag on our economy, and slowing our recovery.”