Beach Blvd. officially re-opened, post-Katrina

Bay St. Louis

Missing link was partially restored this week with the official reopening of a portion of Beach Boulevard, which had been closed for months on end after being destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

The road is now officially open to traffic from Washington Street to the bay bridge.

The beach road, considered by many to be the city’s beach-front crown jewel, was ripped apart by the savage hurricane. It was temporarily reopened with a limestone surface in 2006, but then was closed for permanent repairs.

The shattered beach road came to signify the city’s painful road to recovery. Reconstruction on the permanent road that opened this week did not begin until November 2008, more than three years after Katrina.

Reconstruction began at the Washington Street intersection, then proceeded painstakingly north to St. Stanislaus College and beyond, eventually making it to the CSX Railroad bridge.

Following that, progress seemed stalled at Court Street before moving on again – to Main Street, then eventually to DeMontluzin Street, Carroll Avenue, and beyond. City officials had predicted an opening by Christmas, but that didn’t occur.

The wait was caused by delays in finishing touches, including final surfacing, pavement striping, and sod placement. Then the road recently was quietly reopened all the way to U.S. 90 and the Bay St. Louis Bridge, but the official ribbon cutting didn’t take place until Monday.

City Council members, Mayor Les Fillingame, other elected officials and citizens braved a cold, sunny day to turn out for the noon ceremony Monday. “This roadway is fantastic,” the mayor said.

The road is much improved over the pre-hurricane version, with traffic lanes 12 feet wide, landscaping, new sidewalks and curbs, and sporadic parallel parking.

The project was laborious because in addition to road grading and paving, decrepit underground utility lines that had been damaged by the storm were also replaced by Hemphill Construction, the road contractor. All told, the combined road and infrastructure work cost nearly $6 million in funds provided by FEMA and the Federal Highway Administration. The road work was coordinated by the Mississippi Department of Transportation.

BY: J.R. Welsh

The Sea Coast Echo

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