Harrison County

Crossover bridge to Biloxi Shuckers’ games will span 9 lanes of U.S. 90

A free-standing crossover bridge above U.S. 90 will make crossing the highway to MGM Park a lot easier and safer. Biloxi will take up the issue of funding at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.
A free-standing crossover bridge above U.S. 90 will make crossing the highway to MGM Park a lot easier and safer. Biloxi will take up the issue of funding at Tuesday’s City Council meeting. amccoy@sunherald.com File

It’s a long sprint across nine lanes of U.S. 90 as fans walking to a Biloxi Shuckers’ game at MGM Park race to cross before the traffic light turns green.

It will get easier as Biloxi prepares to kick in $400,000 to build a pedestrian crossover with the Mississippi Department of Transportation. The vote on the matching funds is on Tuesday’s Biloxi Council agenda.

Plans for the crossover show a free-standing tower on both sides with steps and an elevator to make the bridge accessible to those who need it. The towers aren’t connected to Beau Rivage Resort & Casino, the parking garages or the stadium.

In his 2016 State of the City address, Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich said he wanted to see the bridge look like “Old Biloxi.” The design is similar to the crossover that was near the same location at the old Buena Vista Hotel, where Beau Rivage and the stadium now are located.

The city agreed to build the crosswalk between MGM Park and the south side of the highway as part of the contract for the stadium construction. The city’s share was to be paid through a grant from the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality. That was used for construction of the stadium and the money now will be paid with part of the 2017 General Obligation Bond, said Vincent Creel, the city’s public affairs manager.

Jim Turner with the Gulf Coast Planning Commission said on a typical day 15,867 vehicles travel that area of U.S. 90, and that number increases on game day.

Another crossover could be built about a block away. Last year, the city agreed to spend $14,800 as minimum matching funds required for a study on whether to build a pedestrian and bike bridge across U.S. 90 at Rue Magnolia. Coast Transit Authority secured a grant to pay for 80 percent of the study, or $59,200.

It’s a busy agenda for the Biloxi Council on Tuesday, starting with a workshop at 11 a.m. to discuss making the former Beauvoir Elementary School a center for homeless families, veterans and individuals.

The state flag is back on the agenda for the regular meeting that begins at 1:30 p.m. This will be the second reading of an ordinance to require the state flag — with its Confederate emblem in one corner — fly at all city buildings. In April, Gilich ordered the flags to be taken down.

Fans and the Blackwater Brass band escort the Biloxi Shuckers team to their new home at MGM Park on Saturday, June 6, 2015.

Also on Tuesday’s regular agenda, the council will consider:

▪  Hiring law firm Reeves and Mestayer “to investigate, research and file claims” against CSX railroad. The resolution says Biloxi has determined CSX’s maintenance has repeatedly raised railroad crossings, creating a “serious public safety concern.” The law firm will pay its own expenses and will receive 25 percent of any award the city may receive. Biloxi’s cost of litigation is limited to $50,000 for filing fees and related expenses. This comes after four people visiting from Texas died in March when a train hit their tour bus that was stuck on the Main Street crossing.

▪  Setting salaries for the next four years. The mayor would be paid $117,000 a year, up from $115,898.19. The council salary would increase to $32,000 from $29,648.37, with the president receiving an additional $300 a month.

▪  Making up the shortfall in the West boardwalk funding reduced, after the state reduced the Tidelands grant from $700,000 to $500,000. Biloxi will use proceeds from the City-County Port and Harbor Bond Issue to continue the planned boardwalk near Restaurant Row.

▪  Requesting the Biloxi Planning Commission study renaming Jam Lane and Richard Drive near the Biloxi High School as Tribe Drive.