Biloxi rejects developer’s proposal for $150 million toll bridge


BILOXI, Miss. (AP) — Biloxi city officials have rejected a private developer’s proposal to replace a 43-year-old drawbridge with a $150 million span that would be funded by tolls.

City Hall announced Friday that Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich told the developer there was a lack of public support for a new Popp’s Ferry bridge funded by user tolls of $1 to $1.25 per crossing, reported the Sun Herald.

“As it stands, the city doesn’t believe there is adequate support for a tolling solution,” Gilich said.

Officials say the two-lane drawbridge built in 1979 needs repairs, and some have advocated replacing it completely.

Residents were sharply divided when the toll bridge proposal was made public in November. Denver’s United Bridge Partners plan would have widened the bridge and raised it, eliminating the need for a drawbridge that stopped traffic. Some business leaders, like local bank president Chevis Swetman, have come out in favor of the toll bridge. Others, including Barq’s Root Beer descendant Robert Barq, have publicly opposed it.

Many residents balked at the proposed toll, with some vowing they would stray out of their way to avoid having to pay to use the bridge

The mayor said Biloxi will seek funding to repair or replace the bridge through the Federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, as well as “explore other options that may be available, such as the repair and rehabilitation of the existing pull span at Popp’s Ferry”.

Officials said repairing the existing bridge would cost about $15 million.

“Over the past few weeks, additional funds have become available for repair and remediation, and the city believes time is running out for this alternative,” Gilich said.

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