And while the amount of people that attend the festival and the traffic that ensues may be beyond his control, Gilich is serious about keeping Coast residents better informed.
The city has launched a text alert service that will allow for real-time traffic updates during Biloxi Black Weekend, a three-day festival that is headquartered at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum and Convention Center that includes the annual Spring Fest concert.
“It’s very easy — text SPBK to 888777, and you will get the updates during spring break,” said Biloxi Public Affairs Director Vincent Creel. “There’s no app nor anything to download. You just use your cell phone, and almost everyone has a cell phone — we’re hoping people will sign up for it now.”
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Traffic jams, especially along U.S. 90, were a major complaint about last year’s festival, which saw about 70,000 people in attendance.
“You’re trying to fit 70,000 vehicles into a place that holds 7,000 people, and we just don’t have the infrastructure for it,” Biloxi Police Chief John Miller said. “And I really expect it to be bigger than last year.”
The text alert, Creel said, is through a platform called B-Alert, which can be used on a cell phone for free. He said the spring break debut is a test run for the service.
“If it goes well, we plan on expanding the service so that people can get alerts through email and other ways,” Creel said. “We will also have the capabilities to send out a life-or-death-situation text to anyone if there’s an extreme state of peril — even if they haven’t signed up for the alert.”