Scrapin: Another year in the books

Scrapin the Coast bills itself as “the wildest show on the Coast,” and Biloxi Police say the 2019 edition, which attracted tens of thousands to Biloxi roadways Friday through Sunday, lived up to the billing.

The crowd count is not in yet – police forecasted 25,000 beforehand, while the promoter predicted 40,000 – but Mike Wills, assistant chief of the Biloxi Police Department, says “numbers appeared to be significantly higher than previous years,” but the numbers of traffic tickets, arrests and vehicles tows were down considerably, which police attribute to the city’s traffic plan.

Traffic cones were placed in the center lanes of U.S. 90 between I-110 and DeBuys Road on Friday morning, ahead of the event, and police were forced to limit traffic to one lane from about 6 p.m. to midnight on Saturday.

“Traffic was heavy throughout the weekend,” Wills said, “and at one point on Saturday, we were forced to go to one lane eastbound and one last westbound on Highway 90 after an ambulance had difficulty responding to a call. It was after that, and after consulting with AMR and the Biloxi Fire Department, that we decided to reserve the left lanes for emergency vehicles.”

Sixty-six traffic tickets – mostly for minor violations – were issued over the weekend, compared to about 200 traffic violations last year. Said Wills: “I think there was less opportunity and less inclination for people to commit traffic violations.”

Nonetheless, as many as a half-dozen light poles were downed by motorists over the weekend, on U.S. 90 and other thoroughfares.

Only a dozen vehicles were towed and about a dozen arrests were made, including a felony weapons charge. On Saturday night, police reported a motorcyclist reaching speeds of about 100 mph north of the Coast Coliseum. Because of the crowded roadways, police did not pursue the motorcyclist, who was later apprehended in Harrison County after being surveilled by a sheriff’s department helicopter.

Added the deputy chief: “Some people question the benefits of limiting traffic to one lane, but seeing an ambulance stuck in traffic demonstrated once again why having that lane for first-responders is so important.”

Popp’s Ferry Bridge work in final stages

City contractors this week will be finalizing the upgrades to the Popp’s Ferry Bridge and, good news, no other closings are expected.

Motorists and marine traffic have seen recent closures to the bridge while repairs and upgrades have taken place. The latest closure was last week, which impacted marine traffic. On Sunday morning, the bridge was closed for an hour to both marine and vehicular traffic.

This morning, bridge tenders were training on the bridge’s new operating system, which has been upgraded from an analog to a digital system.

“We did have a couple minute-long closures this morning for employee training,” said Bobby Carson, a city engineer. “We want to make sure that the system is working properly so that bridge tenders can be prepared when there is a tugboat or another large vessel needing to pass through.”

Work began in December on a $1.27 million project that involved manufacturing and installing a generator and underwater power cable and updating the electrical panel that controls the raising and lowering of the bridge’s span. The work was needed to update equipment that was installed more than 30 years ago.

Added Carson: “We will be wrapping up work this week and checking for small issues, but we don’t anticipate that affecting vehicular or marine traffic. Also, we ask that motorists be reminded to stop when the traffic light turns red so that the crossing arms can go down, and the draw can open for the marine traffic. ”

News & notes: Weekly report, traffic, council

The week that was: Last week, the Fire Department answered 168 calls for service, including 102 medical emergencies and one fire; the Police Department handled 2,121 calls for service; and the Community Development Department issued 74 building permits with a construction valuation of more than $1 million. To see the departmental reports covering last week, click here. 

Traffic:  To see the latest traffic advisories and road closures, click here

Council: Reminder, the City Council does not meet Tuesday so that councilmembers and others can attend the annual Mississippi Municipal League convention, which is in town this week. The council’s next scheduled meeting is Tuesday, July 2 at 6 p.m.