Harrison County

Biloxi spring breakers will have fewer lanes to drive in, council decides

U.S. 90 will be down to one lane in each direction during spring break events on April 13-15 after the City Council approved the plan Tuesday.

The closed lane would allow emergency vehicles to bypass traffic.

The city’s plan to control traffic during spring break won’t work unless Gulfport also closes a lane of U.S. 90 in each direction, Biloxi Police Chief John Miller said Tuesday.

Miller told the council he’s contacted Gulfport officials and believes they will adopt the same traffic pattern as Biloxi, extending from the city line at DeBuys Road to Cowan Road.

That would make the center lanes open only to emergency vehicles for about 7 miles from Interstate 110 to Cowan Road, both of which connect to Interstate 10.

Miller said he we have everyone in his department working that weekend and needs to hire an additional 80 police officers to control traffic.

The council gave him permission to spend up to $100,000 for additional police presence and about $230,000 to buy traffic cones to close the lanes.

Biloxi expects about 70,000 people for spring break, which is more than last year's record crowd. That is 20,000 more people than the entire population, concentrated mostly in about a mile of beachfront from Edgewater Mall to the Coast Coliseum, where concerts are held.

Miller said what makes spring break different from other large events in Biloxi is there isn't one promoter who can tell police where the events will be held.

He said the extra police will be used for traffic control and to control access to neighborhoods north of U.S. 90 to only those residents with proper identification.

"This past year it was just ridiculous traffic," he said. Police were getting dispatch calls for service every 2 minutes, he said, and they couldn't respond, which he said is why he came up with a traffic plan this year.