Good news on Popp’s Ferry, U.S. 90 repair work

Mayor A.J. Holloway said this afternoon that the Popp’s Ferry bridge in west Biloxi could re-open by the end of this month, more than a month ahead of its original schedule.

And, Holloway said, the city has been assured by the Mississippi Department of Transportation that all lanes of U.S. 90 in Biloxi will be ready to handle traffic on Saturday, Dec. 17.

“This is certainly welcome news for motorists in Biloxi who have had to endure more than 100 days of inconvenience,” Holloway said. “Hurricane Katrina left us with some heavily damaged bridges and roadways, but we’ve made it through and relief is just days away. I congratulate the workers who have helped make this all happen.”

Key Constructors, a Madison, Miss., firm working on the Popp’s Ferry bridge, told the mayor several weeks ago that the bridge repairs were expected to be completed in mid-January, which would still have been a month ahead of schedule.

Meantime, MDOT is continuing its work on the Biloxi portion of U.S. 90, which has been closed to motorists since the storm struck on Aug. 29, eroding much of the four-lane roadway, and destroying the two-dozen traffic signals and more than 200 street lights that the city had installed in the past decade.

Motorists in Biloxi have been forced to use alternate routes while MDOT contractors made repairs to the highway. Biloxi police allowed limited traffic on weekday afternoons, allowing eastbound motorists to access U.S. 90 at Veterans Avenue in west Biloxi to reach I-110 in downtown Biloxi.

Holloway said a final determination on the re-opening of U.S. 90 in Biloxi would be made next week.

“To be honest,” Holloway said, “I’ve been pushing to see this highway re-open for Dec. 15 since back in September, when we first met with MDOT. The contracts they have with their contractors say Dec. 17, and, as long as we get it open by then, I think the people of Biloxi will not sweat two days. They’ve been very tolerant and patient up to this point, and I’m very proud and appreciative of how they’ve endured this.”

Temporary traffic signals have been installed at major intersections on U.S. 90 in Biloxi, and next week a decision will be made on how many barricades will be removed from neighborhood streets connecting to U.S. 90.

MDOT also has said some intermittent lane closures may be required in the next few weeks as contractors make the last of repairs to drainage lines under the roadway. Repairing or replacing drainage lines and removing debris from them have been the biggest challenges contractors faced.

Meantime, Holloway said, “There is light at the end of the tunnel – literally. Mississippi Power Co. has had its crews and crews from other Southern Company utilities working seven days a week for the past month to get these street lights in place,” Holloway said.

“In fact, they actually turned the street lights on the other night for the first time since Aug. 29, which was a milestone achievement.”

Mississippi Power has restored all 176 of the street lights it maintains on U.S. 90 between Point Cadet and DeBuys Road, but a stretch of city-maintained lights between Rodenberg Avenue and Beauvoir Road is not expected to be restored for a few weeks, Holloway said.