It was a busy weekend along the Coast with tens of thousands of people traveling along Highway 90 for big events and the implosion of a major bridge in D'Iberville. The dust has settled on the explosion site of the Big Ridge Road Bridge near Interstate 110.
Now it's time for the contractor to remove what's left and begin work on the new bridge. Gabe Faggard, an M.D.O.T. Area Engineer, says, “The new bridge will be much wider than the existing bridge with the added access ramps to and from I-110. At this location, we predict a significant increase in traffic along this roadway, so the wider bridge is needed for that.”
D'Iberville's commercial businesses are booming, with no indication of slowing down anytime soon. Faggard also says, “The amount of growth in and around I-110 interchange has already exceeded a lot of expectations. We see that a lot more development is coming and we want to be ahead of that game.”
They certainly were ahead of the game, planning the demolition of the bridge six months ago. But why demolish the bridge on a Saturday when traffic would be at its busiest? Faggard replies, “We looked at all of the traffic cams on I-110 and actually Saturday evening into Sunday morning is the lowest traffic count for the area when you consider the amount of time that we actually needed to close the roadway.”
Although M.D.O.T. calculated that the lowest traffic volume would be on Saturday evenings, with all the weekend events, they were sure to work closely with law enforcement officials to ensure that traffic ran as smoothly as possible. Faggard says, “There were several coordination meetings prior to Saturday night and we also worked with law enforcement on the night of the closure.”
M.D.O.T. and Biloxi Police put their plan in place before last weekend started, detouring traffic to the Ocean Springs exit, before Saturday's Darius Rucker concert at Harrah's Gulf Coast. Chief John Miller of the Biloxi Police Department says, “We didn't have a lot of options because the I-110 was closed by the time the concert was out. We wouldn't have had the backup that we had if people were able to use the I-110, but unfortunately we couldn't, so we had to work around that. It slowed things down, but we had asked people to be patient and for the most part, people were very patient and understanding.”
With 12,000 concert-goers and nearly 20,000 low riders in town for Scrapin' the Coast, there were traffic jams and headaches along Highway 90 and other nearby roads, but now the Coast is clear and traffic is once again flowing smoothly along I-110 in D'Iberville. M.D.O.T. says that the $41 million interchange improvement projects on both I-10 and I-110 are scheduled for completion by August of 2015.