Spring break saw 35,000 visitors, plenty of traffic

“I thought it was a great weekend, considering that we had 35,000 people in town,” Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich says of this weekend’s spring break event, which, understandably choked traffic on major arteries in west Biloxi from Friday night into Sunday afternoon.

“This is what we’re all about, hospitality and people having a good time,” Gilich said, “but, yes, I’m certainly aware that we had traffic issues. I don’t think any infrastructure at any city our size is capable of handling such an influx of cars and people in such a condensed amount of time.”

Added the mayor: “I certainly want to thank all of our local residents for their patience with traffic, and I want to thank the men and women in the Biloxi Police Department for doing everything they could to successfully keep traffic moving.”

Police Chief John Miller, whose department saw a 160 percent increase in calls for service (growing from 2,124 two weeks ago to 3,465 last week) as a result of spring break, said pedestrians crossing U.S. 90 on west beach was the biggest issue.

“It just delays traffic to the point where it’s ridiculous,” the chief said. “We’re going to work on a plan to limit where walkers can cross the highway so it’s safer for them and keeps traffic moving.”

Miller added that his officers made 10 DUI arrests during spring break, two arrests for marijuana possession, and one for disorderly conduct.

The Biloxi Fire Department, meantime, actually saw its numbers for the week cut in half because American Medical Response handled emergency medical calls in west Biloxi.

“Emergency medical calls account for two-thirds of our calls each week,” Fire Chief Joe Boney said, “and most of the calls are generated on Friday night and Saturday night. AMR was first responder on the calls in the area of the spring break because, quite frankly, their ambulances can negotiate that heavy traffic better than our big fire trucks. It all worked out, but the reduction in our overall call volume for the week demonstrates once again just how many emergency medical calls we normally take.”
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News and notes

City Council: The next scheduled meeting of the Biloxi City Council is Tuesday, April 19 at 1:30 p.m.

Mayor on CNN: Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich appeared on CNN this afternoon to discuss the state’s “religious freedom” law. To see a clip of the interview, which was conducted over Skype with its inherent audio issues, click here.

Viral, to a degree: Mayor Gilich’s position on the state’s “religious freedom” law created a spike in traffic for the city’s online platforms last week. More than 120,000 people, nearly triple the population of Biloxi, viewed the Facebook post, with more than a thousand of those visitors sharing the item with their friends. Meantime, the city’s website, which hosts 1,500 to 1,800 visitors on a typical day, saw nearly 8,500 people visit the site on the day the “Biloxi does not discriminate. Period.” item was posted.