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Walking the Biloxi Bay Bridge may soon get safer

OCEAN SPRINGS -- An alleged sexual assault on a popular exercise spot in Ocean Springs prompted the city and a group of advocates to take action, and Mayor Connie Moran said within the next few weeks folks who walk and run on the Biloxi Bay Bridge are going to feel a lot safer.

Moran said Friday the city had ordered two surveillance cameras to place near the bridge that will record traffic 24-7. One camera, she said, will be pointed toward the steps approaching the pathway. The other will point from the pathway to the crest of the bridge.

"Video is sent by Wi-Fi to a reception station that will be at Ocean Springs Yacht Club," the mayor said. "Images can be monitored by our police at the Ocean Springs Police Department."

The cameras cost $10,000, and the money was raised by Women Against Violence Everywhere, or WAVE, a group formed after a woman reported being sexually assaulted Nov. 19, 2014, on the bridge. She was attacked about 8:30 p.m., Ocean Springs police said.

Moran said WAVE received two large donations -- from an attorney in Jackson and from the Foundation for The First Bank -- and the rest of the money was raised from small private donations.

She said it will cost $2,500 to erect the cameras -- for the poles, sleeves and concrete, and running electricity to the cameras. The city paid for $1,500 of the expense, and WAVE paid the remaining $1,000.

The city had to submit a right-of-way permit application through the state Department of Transportation before installing the cameras. Moran said the permit was mailed Thursday, and it should be in her hands Monday morning.

The city already has the supplies to begin installation.

"We're just waiting for the cameras," Moran said.

The footage run for 30 days before it rolls over itself, and she said the cameras are high-resolution and will produce clear images at night.

The poles, she said, will be tamper-proof.

She said there have been no other reported assaults on the bridge since November 2014, but she hopes the cameras will promote a safe place for physical activity in the city.

"It got the community together, and I'm very grateful the women in WAVE for raising this money to improve security on one of our more popular facilities for healthy exercise," she said.

The cameras could be installed as early as next week.