Ferry on schedule

MDOT says it will be finished with the infrastructure construction necessary to support the Bay of St. Louis ferry service by Wednesday, its scheduled start date.

"It's coming along great," said engineer David Seyfarth, who's been overseeing maintenance crews pressed into construction duties. "Right now we're a little held up with the weather; there's a lot of wind down there... . We've just got a few things we've got to get ironed out before we get finished."

The ferry will be paid for by the Federal Highway Administration until the new U.S. 90 bridge is complete. Two lanes are scheduled to open in May.

The service is expected to transport fewer than 1,000 vehicles per day. The Gulf Regional Planning Commission's 2005 traffic count on the U.S. 90 bridge showed 19,000 cars used it daily.

MDOT says the locations of dolphins, structures in the water used to tie up the ferries, are one of the obstacles. The dolphins are clusters of wooden piles banded together with cable.

Work crews have traffic signs and gates left to install, and were pouring the concrete slabs for the Henderson Point landing on Thursday.

"We've got a few things left and I think we've probably got some details on where our new dolphins are going to go on the water. It's looking good."

Hornblower Marine Services won a seven-month contract that will be worth an estimated $5 million to provide the service. A company official said Thursday it remains on target to start service on Wednesday.