'Hardest part' of U.S. 90 bridge being built

Construction crews this week installed the highest beams of a new U.S. 90 Biloxi Bay bridge that will replace a span destroyed 20 months ago by Hurricane Katrina.

"That's the hardest part to construct," Kelly Castleberry, district area engineer for the Mississippi Department of Transportation, said.

The bridge will reconnect Ocean Springs with Biloxi, shortening the commute between Jackson and Harrison counties and providing gamblers with easier access to casinos on Biloxi's Point Cadet.

Ships coming through the channel will have 95 feet of vertical clearance.

Having these navigational span girders set will allow work on the south bridge to go at a faster clip. More materials can be trucked in instead of being shipped by tugboats.

"That saves a lot of time," Castleberry said. "You're not having to handle material two or three times."

One lane of the new north bridge is scheduled to open by Nov. 13. The completion date for the $338.6 million project, including the south bridge, is April 16. It will have six lanes and a path for bikers and walkers.