Biloxi Beach connector

Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich spoke about the city’s efforts to see a new Popp’s Ferry bridge during a chamber of commerce presentation on Nov. 7, 2019, and, like clockwork, hours later phones began ringing in the city’s Engineering Department, a clearinghouse for all public and private construction undertakings in the city.

“People who live on Popp’s Ferry Road, especially those north of the bridge, are understandably concerned about the impact the new bridge and wider approaches will have on their homes and property,” said City Engineer Christy LeBatard. “We certainly appreciate their concern, and they let us know every time this issue comes up.  But the truth is, there’s not much more we can say at this point, other than the city wants to build a new bridge and here are the general plans.”

During his presentation, the mayor discussed the plans for the Popp’s Ferry corridor, which would be part of an overall plan known as the “Biloxi Beach Connector.” The plan includes a four-lane roadway that connects from U.S. 90 at the new Popp’s Ferry extension, includes a new, higher Popp’s Ferry bridge, and connects to I-10 at Shriners Boulevard, which, of course, also provides access to Miss. 67.

Gilich acknowledged such an unfunded project, pegged at $250 million today, could take 20 years with the necessary state and federal permitting processes and property acquisitions. Actual construction on the southernmost phase, extending Popp’s Ferry Road to U.S. 90 west of the Coast Coliseum, could begin within a year from now.

It’s the bridge, however, that frustrates the 20,000 motorists who travel the major north-south route, which, Gilich noted, is vital in times of an evacuation that has to open dozens of times to allow boats access to safe anchorage upriver. In recent weeks, the bridge, which was built in 1978 and was transferred by Harrison County to the city some 20 years later, has caused traffic detours and delays because of malfunctions with the raising and lowering of its draw.

The proposed new bridge, which would not have a draw, would tower at least 90 feet above the water, compared to the 32-foot height of the current bridge’s draw. The new bridge would be four lanes, with four-lane approaches at its northern and southern ends. The southern end of the bridge would not touch land until near the intersection of Popp’s Ferry and Atkinson roads because of the bridge’s height.

However, the reason plans and timelines can’t be advanced further, LeBatard said, is because state and federal approvals are pending for a document known as an “environmental assessment,” which is a detailed and concise examination outlining impacts of the route and also rules out other potential routes.
See the phases of the Popp’s Ferry corridor
See renderings of the proposed new bridge
See the Biloxi Beach connector proposal
See the idea of a Howard Avenue exit
Video: Breakfast with the Mayor highlights
Archive: See the 2004 Popp’s Ferry proposal