Popp’s Ferry ribbon-cutting is Friday at 10 a.m.

Mayor A.J. Holloway will join Rick Webster of Key Constructors, members of the Biloxi City Council, and representatives of MDOT and the Federal Highway Administration Friday morning at 10 a.m. to cut a ribbon to formally re-open the Popp’s Ferry bridge to motorists.

The bridge, which had been closed to vehicles since Aug. 29 when it was heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina, is re-opening nearly two months ahead of schedule.

Holloway said Key Constructors, a Madison firm that was awarded a 100-day $7.65 million repair contract on Oct. 18, has had a 20-person crew working as many as 13 hours a day, seven days a week to repair the west Biloxi artery, which had carried as many as 20,000 vehicles on an average pre-Katrina day.

“I want to congratulate Rick and his dedicated team from Key,” Holloway said. “They’ve worked hard to get this vital route back up and running. They promised to get right on this job and stick with it, and they’ve done that.”

Said Webster: “We are extremely pleased that we were able to open the Popp’s Ferry bridge well ahead of the deadline. We hope it helps restore some sense of normalcy to the folks who travel that area regularly.

“Our main goal at Key Constructors is to live up to our promise to do the best job possible as quickly as possible. We are happy that everything fell perfectly into place so we could open the bridge early.”

Under the terms of the repair contract, which Holloway approached the Federal Highway Administration and MDOT for funding, Key stands to receive a half-million-dollar bonus for completing the work so far ahead of schedule. The contract called for a penalty of $50,000 a day for each day the project exceeded its 100-day schedule or a bonus of $50,000 for each day under the 100-day timeframe, with the bonus capped at $500,000.

In addition to the Key agreement, a contract for $497,000 had been awarded to Neel-Schaffer, an engineering firm, to oversee the bridge work.

Popp’s Ferry bridge is one of two Biloxi bridges smashed by Hurricane Katrina. The U.S. 90 bridge, which connects Biloxi and Ocean Springs, could partially open late next year if construction on a new bridge begins soon.

Offices closed Friday, Monday; City Council to meet Tuesday

Non-emergency municipal offices in Biloxi will be closed Friday and Monday in observance of the Christmas holiday, but all city departments and divisions will re-open Tuesday at their usual time, and the Biloxi City Council will meet at its usual 1:30 time Tuesday afternoon.

Among the items on the council’s agenda are four measures involving a Cornerstone Development Group proposal for a condo project near Oakmont Place and Beauvoir Road, where the group plans to construct 16-story and six-story buildings that will house 380 residential and condotel units.

You can see the agenda for Tuesday – resolutions are unavailable at this writing – by clicking here.

News and notes

The tax man cometh: Harrison County has posted the 2005 property tax bills on its web site. You can search the database by clicking here.