Cruisin’ 2019: Earlier arrivals and smoother rides

It’s that time of year again when thousands of cars and car aficionados saturate the beachfront highway and adjoining thoroughfares for the fun-filled, week-long event, Cruisin’ The Coast.

Car enthusiasts parade their antique, classic, hot rod and custom vehicles along U.S. 90 and stop at various venues to enjoy entertainment, cruise-ins, sock-hops and more for the 23rd annual event, billed as “America’s largest block party,” given its attraction to vistors from across the country. The event officially began Sunday and runs through this Sunday.

So what’s been new so far this year? For starters, police say, cruisers seem to be arriving early again this year, which is great news, but caused extended traffic delays between Rodenberg and Camellia on U.S. 90 over the weekend. Extra police were positioned to help traffic move along.

The other big difference: Freshly laid asphalt on U.S. 90 means motorists may be tempted to increase speeds or leave a mark. “We’re asking people to please refrain from stunting or trying to burn rubber,” Biloxi Police Chief John Miller said. “All too often we have seen people lose control of vehicles, hit a curb, cause an accident or end up on the beach. And, by all means, please remember the speed limits.”

Otherwise, Miller said, the traffic plan is basically the same as it has been for major events, with traffic cones in place between lanes on U.S. 90 in case the left lane needs to be reserved for emergency traffic. “Every year we slightly tweak the traffic plant, based on what we’ve learned from the year before. For the most part the plan you are used to seeing with the cones will be the same,” the police chief said. “We are, however, going to leave a little more distance between the cones so you will see fewer cones.”

The spacing will allow for better maneuvering between cones, especially for the larger, older vehicles that will be in town.

The cones should be in place by sunrise Friday, from I-110 west to the city limits at DeBuys Road; however all lanes will be open for traffic, unless police see the need to reserve a lane. Notifications will be made through the city’s B-alert text system. (To sign up for the free service, text BILOXI to 888777.)

Said Miller: “With the growth of the event and a record number of Cruisers expected, we have to be prepared, and, if traffic gridlocks, we need to make sure police, fire and ambulances can respond in a timely manner. We don’t want to diminish the great success of Cruisin’ or any event, but we have to be prepared.

“Our infrastructure is really not designed to easily handle all the traffic we have during a major event like this,” the police chief added, “so we want to remind everyone to be patient and give yourself plenty of time to reach your destination. It’s a party atmosphere, so be patient, be careful and enjoy the sights.”

Motorists also will notice the MDOT resurfacing work is continuing on U.S. 90. However, U.S. 90 paving work has been suspended during Cruisin’.

Visitors to the downtown block party on Wednesday will be enjoying the “new” brick-surfaced Howard Avenue for the first time, and the party itself runs from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., an hour longer than in the past.

Downtown visitors will find streets transformed into pedestrian car-browsing grounds, live entertainment stages, and special food and drink offers from downtown restaurants and shops. Remember, Miller advises, parking will be on a first-come basis. Many arrive early.
Video: Experience the flavor of the downtown block party
See the block party map and Cruisin’ traffic plan
See the downtown entertainment lineup
Tips to help make your Cruisin’ experience a great one
City Desk: Hear Police Chief John Miller on Cruisin’ 2019

News & notes: Week in review, no council meeting

Week in review: What happened in Biloxi last week? The city’s departments of Fire, Police, Community Development and Engineering have the details. To read the weekly reports, click here.

No council meeting: It’s the second Tuesday of the month, which means typically means no City Council meeting. The next scheduled meeting of the Biloxi City Council is Tuesday, Oct. 15 at 1:30 p.m. To see a video replay of the Oct. 1 council meeting, click here.