Building a better traffic plan — together

When the Wilkes Bridge gets stuck, it makes rush hour a headache.
When the Wilkes Bridge gets stuck, it makes rush hour a headache.

Let Wednesday be a “teachable moment.”

For those who didn’t happen to be near or on Cowan-Lorraine Road in Gulfport from Wednesday afternoon to the wee hours of Thursday morning, the Wilkes Bridge drawbridge was stuck open for hours.

A stuck drawbridge is just one of the small prices we pay for living in a place surrounded by beautiful water. We can live with that.

But we believe with a little planning, these road closures can be less of a headache.

Communication could have been better. Many learned of the closing the hard way — by turning onto Cowan-Lorraine Road from Pass Road or from Interstate10. Police were at the north and south sides of the road and at the Seaway Road intersection north of the bridge.

The police used social media. The local media did what they could to get the word out.

Unfortunately, the bridge remained stuck during the evening rush. And there aren’t a lot of alternatives to go north to Orange Grove and beyond. Locals who thought they knew a less-traveled way around the bridge were out of luck. Washington Avenue, for example, was bumper to bumper from Creosote Road back to Hewes Avenue.

And that’s drivers who know where they are going.

We have to wonder about our out-of-town visitors — people who may not follow the police on social media.

Here’s a suggestion. Use the mobile signs that tell drivers to turn down the music or buckle up. Those could be strategically placed — at Cowan and Pass, for example — to direct out-of-towners away from the bridge and toward U.S. 49 or Interstate 110, the two most-direct routes north besides Cowan-Lorraine, which out-of-towners probably know as 605.

We’re pretty lucky. Our commutes are nothing compared with those of nearby cities — or other resort areas, for that matter.

But we can make driving on the Coast even better. And it’s not just Gulfport’s problem. There are drawbridges on major north-south roads in Biloxi and Ocean Springs as well.

Other suggestions are welcome. We’ll be happy to pass them along to the folks who are out there every day trying to keep our roads safe and the traffic flowing.

The editorial represents the views of the Sun Herald editorial board. Opinions of columnists and cartoonists are their own.