Traffic update: Popp’s Ferry contract; U.S. 90 access to I-110

Popp’s Ferry bridge could re-open to traffic in about 100 days under the terms of a $7.65 million contract the City of Biloxi awarded this afternoon.

Key LLC, a Madison, Miss. firm, had the lowest of three bids submitted for the project, which would see repairs to the two-lane bridge that carried as many as 20,000 vehicles a day before it was damaged by Hurricane Katrina on Aug. 29.

The city had hoped to award the project more than a week ago, but the contract was re-bid after a contractor questioned the expedited bidding process.

Mayor A.J. Holloway secured funding for the Popp’s Ferry work from the Federal Highway Administration, which will funnel the money through the Mississippi Department of Transportation.

“We’re glad to get the contracts in place to get this project moving forward,” said Holloway, who had called a special meeting of the City Council to approve the contract. “In fact, I’m hoping that we’ll see workers begin mobilizing to set up equipment at the site as early as Friday. Incentives are in place to see that this work is done in a timely manner.”

Under the terms of the contract, Key faces a penalty of $50,000 a day for every day the projects exceeds the 100-day contract, but the firm could receive a bonus of $50,000 for each day under the 100-day timeframe. The bonus would be capped at $500,000.

The city also awarded a $497,000 contract to the Neel-Schaffer, an engineering firm that will oversee the project.

Police to allow I-110 access at Veterans Avenue

Motorists who have been caught up in slow-moving afternoon traffic on Irish Hill Drive will have a new option beginning Thursday afternoon.

Biloxi Police Chief Bruce Dunagan announced today that motorists will be able to access U.S. 90 at Veterans Avenue to travel eastward to the I-110 loop at U.S. 90.

The Veterans Avenue access at U.S. 90 will open each weekday afternoon from 2:30 to 6, and motorists taking that route must travel directly to the I-110 loop. No turns or stopping will be allowed. Police officers will be on hand to monitor the flow of traffic.

“We’re working to relieve the heavy traffic that’s been on Irish Hill each afternoon,” Dunagan said. “However, people need to remember that once they get on Highway 90 at Veterans they will be committed to go all the way across the bay. They also need to remember that this section of U.S. 90 is two-way traffic, with no passing and a 35 mph speed limit.”

Dunagan said the weekday afternoon access to the loop via Porter at U.S. 90, which has been in place for a few weeks, would be re-assessed in the next few days. “We’re going to see how this works, and we may end up closing the access at Porter to avoid traffic coming into traffic on U.S. 90.

“The most important thing for people to know is that we’re doing everything that we can to move traffic, but we have to make sure that we’re doing it safely and that we don’t do things that will end up causing more problems. We’re asking motorists to continue to remain patient in traffic, and continue to drive courteously. We’ll get through this.”