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

The city officials in Biloxi, Mississippi have rejected a proposal brought forth by a private developer to replace a 43-year-old drawbridge in the city with a $150 million bridge that would be funded and supported by tolls.

An announcement was made by City Hall on Friday that the mayor let the developer know there would be a lack of public support for the plan.

Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich told the private developer there would not be enough public desire for a new Popp’s Ferry bridge that would be financed by user tolls of $1 to $1.25 for each crossing, according to The Sun Herald. “As matters currently stand, the city does not feel there is adequate support for a tolling solution,” Gilich explained.

While officials have noted that the two-lane drawbridge constructed in 1979 is certainly in need of some repairs, several have pushed for replacing it all together.

When the issue over whether to place a toll bridge in that area became a proposal in November, Biloxi residents were sharply divided over the idea.

The plan brought forth by United Bridge Partners of Denver would have increased the width of the bridge as well as raised it, cutting the need for a drawbridge that halted traffic.

As some business leaders, like local bank president Chevis Swetmen, voiced their favor for the toll bridge, others, including Barq’s Rood Beer descendant Robert Barq, opposed the measure publicly. 

Many residents voiced their disapproval of the toll bridge idea, some promising to drive out of their way to avoid paying to use the bridge.

Gilich said the city would be seeking funding to repair or replace the current bridge through the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act in addition to exploring “other options that may be available, such as repair and remediation of the existing Popp’s Ferry draw span.”

Gilich added, “In the last few weeks, additional funds have become available for repair and remediation, and the city believes time is of the essence for that alternative.” 

ARTICLE: ELIZABETH HERTZBERG

MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE

PHOTO CREDITS: THETRUCKER.COM

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