BILOXI -- The first of two public meetings this week on the $365 million Biloxi infrastructure project was part finger pointing and part looking for solutions to the problems of delays, design errors and dirt roads.
Council President Felix Gines said at Tuesday's workshop he wants answers by Thursday, when he will hold a meeting with residents of Ward 2 at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall.
"We can work with you but need to know what's going on," Gines said.
Councilman George Lawrence said a more realistic schedule than two days would be to meet again in a month -- and then every month -- to provide progress reports and tell residents where crews will be working next.
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Residents complained about health concerns from the dust, but the streets that are now dirt roads through their neighborhoods are their chief concern.
The contractor tried to use some of the pavement-milling material to put down a harder surface over the dirt roads, said Marvin Dalla Rosa with HNTB, the project manager for the city. That wasn't very successful but Dalla Rosa said there are other options to make the roads more passable, such as limestone or gravel.
Roads are torn up over much of East Biloxi north of the railroad tracks because of the design errors, said Tony Morrow, who is overseeing the north contract for Oscar Renda Contracting. Rather than sending crews home while the projects are redesigned, Morrow said he moves them to other areas of the project.
Seven engineering firms designed different areas of the huge project and there have been errors in some of the plans. Dalla Rosa said the elevation of one of the roads was wrong and more than 500 feet of pipe had to be lowered. Another design error specified the wrong size pipe.
Bids are scheduled to be opened Nov. 18 on the south contract, for work south of the railroad track in East Biloxi, and Gines threatened to vote to delay that work until the north contract is further along and some of the streets paved. Biloxi already rebid the contract, adding nine months to the timetable.
The north-contract work that began in August 2014 is scheduled to be complete in early 2018. South-contract work, if it isn't delayed again, will run through the end of 2018.
"Overall, there's a lot of work that's been done without these issues," Dalla Rosa. About 16 of the 20 infrastructure projects in the city are almost complete.
Mayor Andrew "FoFo" Gilich and others involved in the project are meeting every Tuesday with representatives of FEMA and MEMA, who are financing the work and who told Gilich this is the most complex of any project in the Southeast. With the right people now at the table, Gilich said, he's confident they can work out solutions to get the project moving.