The bad news is the infrastructure work that has turned much of East Biloxi into a land of dirt roads for three years will expand to south of the railroad tracks this month.
The good news from Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich is a promise the south project will proceed much more smoothly, and this will be a year of new parks, piers, boardwalks and family fun for the city.
Gilich said at Tuesday’s State of the City address at the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino his goal is still for Biloxi to be a safe, friendly and beautiful city, but this year his emphasis is on getting things out of the planning stage and under construction.
He reports progress on the $126 million project in East Biloxi. More than 30 miles of blacktop are down to smooth the way on the 55 miles of roads north of the CSX railroad that went under water during Hurricane Katrina.
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“That’s little consolation for those homes and businesses still on the 20 miles of milled up roads,” he acknowledged.
The $23 million south project will last for more than two years and will be much more visible from along U.S. 90.
“There are going to be inconveniences because its major work,” Gilich said, “but this time we have built into the contracts far more city control. Work in an area must be 75 percent complete before the contractor can move to the next area, and only after if the city approves.”
Along with this work, bids will be opened in 2 weeks to turn Howard Avenue through the downtown back to two-way traffic.
Gilich also gave concrete start dates for work on other projects throughout the city.
Starts dates on new projects
▪ Popp’s Ferry Causeway Park, 30 years in the making, could be complete in April, with a bait shop, new piers, lighting and waterfront walkways.
▪ Two new pedestrian crosswalks will be built across U.S. 90 near the Beau Rivage and Hard Rock casinos. Work will begin in the next couple of months on the crossover to MGM Park, and he said it will be open late this year. The second crossover will be built north of the Small Craft Harbor and work is scheduled to begin by the end of the year.
▪ Hundreds of new hotel rooms will be added downtown when Hilton Garden Inn and The Watermark hotels open this year.
▪ The Lighthouse pier damaged by Hurricane Nate will be repaired and open by summer.
▪ By summer the $1 million West Biloxi Boardwalk will connect restaurant row businesses from Rodenberg to Veterans Avenue.
▪ Construction will begin mid-year on boardwalks from the Palace Casino Resort under the Biloxi Bay Bridge, around the waterfront at Point Cadet Marina, to the Golden Nugget and Margaritaville and on to Oak Street.
▪ Construction will start on a new fire command station in north Biloxi at Cedar-Popp’s, and possibly a new fire station at old Highway 67 later this year to serve Woolmarket.
▪ More boardwalks and sidewalks will be added in Hiller Park this year.
▪ Finishline Performance Karting track at U.S. 90 and Veterans Avenue in west Biloxi will open in June, with race tracks for adults and kids.
▪ Saltgrass Steak House on U.S. 90, north of Golden Nugget Casino Biloxi, will open this summer and have indoor and patio dining.