The beaches of Hancock County are open, but navigating the maze of construction areas on the road is proving to be a difficult task. Currently, about six miles of the beach road is under construction in two separate contracts.
The road north of Highway 90 to Cedar Point and from Washington Street to the Waveland city limits is part of the final beach road project being administered by the Mississippi Department of Transportation. The area from the Waveland city limits to Lakeshore is another contract.
The road is closed in three places and a good portion of the road in Waveland is torn up and often impassable.
The construction has caused many to stay off of the beach, Bay St. Louis Mayor Les Fillingame said Monday.
“Since the construction began, a lot of people are not even driving on the beach,” he said. “Its a mess.”
Hancock County District One Supervisor David Yarborough said Tuesday the project is supposed to be complete within nine months, but he expects it to be closer to a year.
“There is probably going to be a lot of unforeseen things come up,” Yarborough said.
Earlier this year, the board approved an $8.34 million contract for Lane Construction to repair the beach road.
MDOT recently took over engineering on the beach road project after it said it was unhappy with the previous firm, CDM.
MDOT officials said they were not happy with safety issues surrounding the construction areas.
The project spans 8.6 miles and will complete the road from Washington Street west to Buccaneer Park and from Hwy. 90 to Cedar Point, officials said.
The project includes installing concrete shoulders, some concrete repair, and asphalt overlay of the entire stretch.
A previous project by the Mississippi Department of Transportation repaired and overlaid the road from Washington Street east to the Bay Bridge.
Silver Slipper Chief Operating Officer John Ferruci said construction delays and road closures have caused the casino to cancel its annual Crusin’ the Coast event.
Ferucci said he is hopeful to bring the event back next year when the road is completed.
The road is closed from just west of the Waveland line to Lakeshore Road.
“The road has not really hurt our business, because most people have figured out they have to go down Lakeshore Road,” Ferucci said.
Waveland Mayor Tommy Longo said previously that the project is very important.
“It ties everything together,” Longo said. “Having the beach road complete will not only help with tourism, but it will be a benefit to all of our residents.”
Fillingame said he is hopeful the project will move forward quickly.
“We have been waiting on this project to be completed for a while and we are hopeful it will be completed soon.”
BY: Dwayne Bremer
The Sea Coast Echo