News and notes about opening of Biloxi Bay Bridge

Visitors to the Biloxi Bay Bridge ceremonies Thursday will have a chance to take a free ride on one of Coast Transit’s post-Katrina success stories, the Casino Hopper.

Coast Transit will offer free shuttle service throughout the day between Point Cadet, east Biloxi casinos and its Downtown Transit Center.

Last month, the Casino Hopper service enjoyed its best month to date, with 14,500 riders on the service.

U.S. 90 access limited in east Biloxi

Most if not all of the access points to U.S. 90 east of Oak Street will be closed or handle limited traffic for most of the day Thursday because of heavy pedestrian traffic expected for the bridge opening.

So, what time does the bridge open?

Motorists hoping to take their first ride across the new Biloxi Bay Bridge should expect the bridge to open to the motoring public sometime after a 5 p.m. parade of first responders, motorcycles and antique cars.

“It could be somewhere around 6 or 6:30 p.m.,” Mayor A.J. Holloway said, “but that all depends on whether the parade from Ocean Springs to Biloxi begins on time, how long the parade is, and then only once MDOT says it’s good to go.”

The plan had originally called for the bridge to open after a 30-minute fireworks show that begins at 7 p.m., but Holloway and others asked that the opening not be delayed for the fireworks show.

City Desk: Nackground on the bridge ceremony

A special edition of the City Desk webcast discusses background on the bridge opening and other issues of note in Biloxi. To listen to the program, hosted by Bay Press Editor Gene Coleman and taped this morning,
click here.

Schedule of events and other notes

Here is the Biloxi schedule of events connection with opening of the Biloxi Bay Bridge on Thursday:

Biloxi pre-ceremony entertainment

(On a stage at the base of the bridge in Biloxi, each group performs for 20 minutes, with video vignettes between performances.)

• 10 a.m. – Nativity BVM Elementary Choir

• 11:20 a.m. – Biloxi High School Show Choir

• 12:20 p.m. – St. Patrick Catholic High School Choir

• 1:05 p.m. – Biloxi High School Jazz Band

MDOT bridge ceremony

• 2 to 3:15 p.m. – Platform speakers (main stage at Biloxi side of bridge)

• 3:30 to 4:15 p.m. – Ribbon-tying ceremony at the center of the bridge (invited participants)

• 5 p.m. – Parade of first responders, motorcycles and antique cars. Bridge to open to motoring public sometime after parade.

Lighting up the sky

Several east Biloxi casinos – the Isle of Capri, Beau Rivage, IP, Boomtown and Grand – are partnering with the city to sponsor a fireworks display from Point Cadet on Nov. 1 at 7 p.m. The show will be set to music that will air on GO FM 105.9.

Park and ride

Since parking will be limited on Point Cadet and traffic will be heavy, park at any east Biloxi casino or at the Downtown Transit Center and take a ride aboard Coast Transit’s Casino Hopper, which will be offering free service to and from Point Cadet on Nov. 1.

Watch at home

Cable One will provide coverage of the bridge-opening ceremony on Cable 18 from noon to 5 p.m. for all of its Mississippi Coast subscribers.

On the big screen

If you want to avoid the traffic at Point Cadet, a huge outdoor TV screen will be erected on the Biloxi Town Green, where seating also will be provided throughout the day.