Gulf Coast marks milestone in Katrina recovery with bridge's opening

Thousands of Gulf Coast residents are expected to celebrate a milestone in their recovery from Hurricane Katrina with the opening today of a bridge that replaces one demolished by the storm.

Two of the bridge's six lanes are scheduled to open to traffic tonight, following a daylong celebration at both ends of the $338 million structure. The new span reconnects the casino resorts of Biloxi with the quaint shops of Ocean Springs to the east.

Around 35,000 cars a day crossed a four-lane drawbridge between the two cities before the August 29, 2005, hurricane destroyed it. The new 1.6-mile bridge over Biloxi Bay restores the last broken link in coastal U.S. Highway 90.

Farther to the west on U.S. Highway 90, Katrina also destroyed a two-mile bridge over the Bay of St. Louis. A new bridge between the cities of Bay St. Louis and Pass Christian partially opened in May.