Weekend weather delays aside, bridge workers making progress

Popp’s Ferry bridge construction workers, whose weekend schedule was postponed by inclement weather, had three concrete piles in place this afternoon and hoped to have another three in place by day’s end.

In all, 12 piles will be driven to replace the eight that had supported the two 90-foot sections of the bridge that were knocked out by a barge collision on March 20, 25 days ago. Workers are aiming to re-open the bridge by April 28, and face a $75,000 per day bonus or penalty.

Crews from Joe McGee Construction Co. of Lake, Miss., had originally hoped to begin driving piles – long, pre-fabricated concrete beams that support the bridge — on Saturday before daybreak, but a thunderstorm and high tides on Sunday pushed back the start of pile driving until 6:15 Monday evening.

Two 12-hour shifts – each consisting of 13 men on a barge, two boat captains and a half-dozen men preparing forms for the concrete decking – are working on the ‘round-the-clock project.

Each pile takes about 30 to 45 minutes to drive. Once piles are driven and in place, they are capped by a horizontal concrete beam. Support beams will then connect both rows of six piles, and two 90-foot concrete decks will then be poured atop those beams.

The Mississippi Department of Transportation, which secured $2 million in federal funding for the repairs, is overseeing the work.

“They’re using quick-curing concrete on this job, so once they get those piles driven things ought to go pretty quickly,” Mayor A.J. Holloway said. “The weather really put a crimp in their schedule over the weekend, but I know they have the incentive to make that up.

“They know how vital this roadway is, not only to our day-to-day travels, but especially with the opening of hurricane season a little more than a month away.”

Online photos: To see photos from this bridge site this afternoon, click here.

News and notes

Water interruption: The city’s project to improve Brasher Road is interrupting water service on some adjoining roadways this afternoon. To see the list, as well as an overview of roadwork citywide, click here.

Housing progress: Mayor A.J. Holloway will be among the speakers Tuesday when the Biloxi Housing Authority holds a grand opening for the McDonnell Avenue apartments. For see photos of the apartments and to read about the housing authority’s overall progress, click here.

‘Something beautiful’: NBC News aired the two-minute segment on the Katrina sculptures during the “Nightly News” Saturday evening and repeated the report again on “Today” Easter Sunday morning. To see Mark Potter’s report, and its introduction by NBC weekend achor Lester Holt, click here.