New bridge makes travel safer for casino, ballpark foot traffic
Neel-Schaffer was chosen by the Mississippi Department of Transportation through an On-Call Bridge Design contract to provide design services for a pedestrian bridge over US 90 on the Gulf Coast in Biloxi.
In addition to a 158-foot long steel through truss bridge, the project included a stairway and elevator on each side of the crowded highway.
This safety project carries pedestrians over six very congested lanes of traffic. US 90 in the area of the bridge is populated by two major beach-side casinos and hotels to the south, with hotels, restaurants, and a minor league baseball stadium on the north side of the busy corridor. When the bridge was put in place, pedestrian signals/ crosswalks at two nearby intersections were eliminated.
The bridge is 21 feet high on the north side and 28 feet high on the casino side of the highway, with the heights designed to correspond with the height of existing parking garages on each side of the highway. It was built as a stand-alone structure that can be connected to the parking garages in the future.
The open-air bridge has an eight-foot clear inside width, with safety fencing on the sides and top. The stairway and elevator tower are cast-in-place concrete structures, supported on drilled shafts.
Factors and challenges engineers faced in designing the bridge included:
- Aligning the walkway height on each side to correspond with existing parking garages;
- Making sure the bridge was high enough from the roadway for large trucks to pass safely underneath, and positioned in a way to not block the line-of-sight of traffic signals for motorists using US 90;
- Locating the drilled shaft foundation to clear underground utilities; and
- Designing the elevator towers to resist hurricane-force winds and storm surge.
Final design plans were completed in 2017. Construction began in 2017 and the bridge opened in March of 2019.