Biloxi-Ocean Springs Bridge to open in November

Mississippi transportation officials

say they plan to open the Ocean Springs-to-Biloxi bridge to traffic

earlier than planned.

"Absent of any unforeseen events, the bridge will be released

to us on or by Nov. 1," said Harry Lee James, deputy director and

chief engineer of the Mississippi Department of Transportation.

"We plan to open the bridge to the public on Nov. 1."

A hurricane or tropical storm could cause delay, James said.

GC Constructors, the contractor for the $338.6 million project,

will give control of two lanes to MDOT 12 days early, James said.

The original release was schedule for Nov. 13

"The contractor is aware of what it means to the people of the

coast and the state to have this vital artery open to the coast,"

James said.

About 35,000 cars of the 85,000 cars now traveling on Interstate

110 used the U.S. 90 bridge before Hurricane Katrina in August

2005, Vincent Creel, a spokesman for the city of Biloxi.

"This project is about more than moving traffic," Creel said.

"It's about moving the economy." The new span will be taller,

wider and safer than the old Biloxi-Ocean Springs bridge on U.S.


Kelly Castleberry, the engineer overseeing the work, said

construction workers are on the job six days a week.

"People need to get back and forth, and we need to get these

communities back together again," said Castleberry.

MDOT, Biloxi and Ocean Springs are planning a ribbon tying

celebration for the opening of the bridge, James said.