Fishing bridge funding; other news and notes

FEMA has approved a City of Biloxi request for $5.2 million to rebuild the old Biloxi-Ocean Springs fishing bridge on Point Cadet.

The funding, announced today, represents the estimated cost of restoring the 4,800-foot long bridge, which will be able to support light vehicles of the type used for the handicapped and for emergencies.

The city has a similar request pending with FEMA for the Back Bay fishing bridge, part of an overall package of 279 requests representing more than $150 million in funding.

“We have engineering work underway now on restoration of this popular Point Cadet location,” Mayor A.J. Holloway said. “We’re employing a design-build concept, which means we’ll be able to do the bidding for design and construction all at once instead of separately.”

Holloway said the same team working on the Biloxi Bay bridge, scheduled to initially open in November, is working on the fishing bridge project.

“Of course,” the mayor said, “we’re prohibited nby law from offering incentive bonuses like the $5 million one being offered on that project, but the overall concept of design-and-build seems to speed things up and is cost-effective, compared to conventional means.”

The original Biloxi-Ocean Springs fishing bridge was 4,824 feet long by 24.5 feet wide. Waves from the Hurricane Katrina storm surge destroyed all but one of the 155 cement sections of the bridge, which were each 31 feet long. To see a photo of the destroyed bridge, from the city’s online photo gallery, click here.

News and notes

Council schedule: The Biloxi City Council’s next scheduled meeting is Tuesday, March 20 at 1:30 p.m. at City Hall.

Website udpate: The city’s website, which saw its number of visitors jump from 5,000 on an average day to more than 25,000 the day after Hurricane Katrina, has seen dozens of additions and revisions in the pre-Katrina world. Now, three new photo montages have been added to show post-Katrina rebuilding efforts around the city. To see the existing and new montages, which will rotate randomly at the top of the site, click here.

Webcasting: Sgt. Jackie Rhodes, public information officer in the Biloxi Police Department, reviews Keesler’s recent hazardous-materials exercise, while Bay Press editor Gene Coleman raises questions about a number of on-going city issues in this week’s City Desk webcast. To listen, click here.

Sculpting sealed: City crews this afternoon fenced off the sculpture garden on U.S. 90 until a Public Works team can apply sealant to the four sculptures. Already, dozens of onlookers have begun visiting the site, where sculpting was completed yesterday. Nearly a thousand people have visited the online photos and video of the work. To get an online look, click here.