Harrison County

Biloxi bought $230K in traffic cones for spring break. They're about to be used again.

Motorists make their way down U.S. 90 in Biloxi on Friday, April 13, 2018. Police used orange cones to separate emergency and civilian traffic during Black Spring Break.
Motorists make their way down U.S. 90 in Biloxi on Friday, April 13, 2018. Police used orange cones to separate emergency and civilian traffic during Black Spring Break. jcfitzhugh@sunherald.com

Thousands of orange cones used to control spring break traffic in April are coming out of storage for Scrapin the Coast in June, the Blue Angels in July and possibly other events in Biloxi.

Scrapin the Coast returns June 22-24 to the Mississippi Coast Coliseum. Myles Holcomb, one of the organizers who started the event 16 years ago, said it attracts a combined 20,000 drivers and fans who sit along U.S. 90 to see the low-rider cars and trucks pass.

The show is from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days and will feature music, burnout contest, competitions, truck debuts from Gas Monkey Garage and vendors. Admission is $15.

Maj. Christopher De Back with the Biloxi Police Department said the cones will be in place that weekend between Interstate 110 and DeBuys Road, as they were during spring break. If necessary, the traffic plan calls for one lane of U.S. 90 to be closed in each direction to all but emergency vehicles, and venting to move traffic and prohibit turns.

With most big events in Biloxi held on the peninsula south of I-10 and the Back Bay — and limited roads to get around — officials said the cones were an investment in traffic control and safety.

Biloxi spent $231,000 this year to buy 8,850 orange cones after Mayor Andrew "FoFo" Gilich pledged there wouldn't be a repeat of the traffic snarl that prevented police and other emergency vehicles from responding during Black Spring Break 2017. Attendance last year doubled to about 70,000 and Biloxi police planned for more than 100,000 spring breakers in April, although rain kept that number to about 30,000.

Scrapin the Coast is expected to draw more than 2,300 registered vehicles. It is much smaller than spring break but is growing every year, De Back said.

"Both of these are heavy traffic events," he said, and that can make it difficult for first responders.

Holcomb says he and the other organizers, who also live in the area, have no problem with the orange cones being used to manage traffic during Scrapin.

“I'm a local. I get it. I understand,” he said. The daytime activities are at the Coliseum, he said, and the after party moves much of the traffic away from the beach to the Gulfport Dragway.

“The kids like to cruise,” he said, while the other half of the Scrapin crowd will be out at the Gulfport Dragway off Canal Road showing off their vehicles.

But the cones won't be in storage for long after Scrapin.

"Right behind it we've got the Blue Angels," DeBack said. The air show will be headquartered at The Great Lawn at Harrah's Gulf Coast Casino from July 21-22 and the crowd is expected to extend well beyond East Biloxi.

"We haven't even started looking at Cruisin' yet," he said.

Cruisin' The Coast from Sept. 30 to Oct. 7 is the largest festival in the state and brings thousands of antique and classic cars to Biloxi and across the Coast.

In addition to using the cones for traffic control, Biloxi debuted its B-Alert advisory system during spring break and DeBack said the system will be used for alerting the public during all traffic and weather events. Subscribers can sign up on their cell phone by texting BILOXI to 888777.