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Top 10: Bridges, trees top landscape changes

The silhouette of South Mississippi’s landscape for 2007 is shaped by two new bridges that have improved the quality of life for daily commuters and by thousands of new trees planted in a massive effort to reclaim the environment.

Countless other changes mark progress in South Mississippi.

Our top 10:

1. Bridges: The two new bridges that soar and curve at each end of Harrison County opened for two lane-traffic in 2007 and are scheduled for full completion in early 2008. The $266 million Bay St. Louis Bridge will be fully open by the end of January and the $338 million Biloxi Bay Bridge by mid-April.

2. Trees: Since February, native species trees have been planted all over the six southern counties and palm trees and sea oats on the beach line in a multifaceted effort to put trees back in our landscape. Oaks, magnolia, pine, cypress and red maples are among 2,669 native species trees planted by Replant South Mississippi, which has the goal of replanting 300,000 trees in five years to replace those destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. On the tropical side, cabbage palms and sea oats grow on and near the sand beach, courtesy of the Mississippi Department of Transportation’s U.S. 90 project.

3. Sand beach: Since August, about 26,000 linear feet, or approximately five miles, of sand beach has been repaired in an area from the Beau Rivage west almost to Edgewater Mall.

4. New buildings: Glistening stainless steel structures in the shape of tall eggs, popularly known as “pods,” sprung up in November at the construction site of the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum on Biloxi’s east beachfront. A timeline for further construction and future opening of the $30 million campus hinges on bids to be received in late January 2008.

5. Old buildings: After the remains of church buildings and other debris were cleared away south of the 80-year-old Markham Hotel in Gulfport, the old place seems to tower above U.S. 90 two blocks to its south. The Markham’s fate, whether it will be preserved or destroyed, is still unknown.

6. Parks and playgrounds: As iconic symbols of recovery, colorful new parks and playgrounds are everywhere. After the initial infusion of KaBOOM! projects, local entities took over. There is a small pocket park in the middle of downtown Pascagoula and a stateof-the art playground and landscaped nature walk made from a destroyed park in Gulfport’s Bayou View. Gulfport’s city-owned Jones Park on U.S. 90, however, is still undergoing reconstruction from storm damage.

7. Beauvoir: Jefferson Davis’ last home and the only National Historic Landmark to survive on the beachfront has undergone extensive repair and is starting to look like its old self again. Plans are to reopen for the first time since Katrina on June 3, 2008, which is the 200th anniversary of Davis’ birth.

8. Beach Boulevard: Repaving is under way and one-lane traffic is the rule rather than the exception along much of U. S. 90, paralleling the 26-mile man-made sand beach. Many of the surviving homes have been repaired and new ones are either built to look old or built up on stilts.

9. Waffle House: In a beach landscape nearly devoid of restaurants, the number of Waffle Houses continued to grow in 2007.

10. Public art: More and more sculptures of sea life and coastal birds carved on bare, dead trees have appeared in the vicinity of U.S. 90.

The year in review

Sunday - Top 10 newsmakers

Today - Top 10 changes in the landscape

Tuesday - Top 10 entertainment events

Wednesday - Top 10 politicians

Thursday - Top 10 passings

Friday - Top 10 offbeat stories

Saturday - Top 10 stupid criminals

Sunday - Top 10 crimes

Dec. 31 - Top 10 South Mississippi stories

Jan. 1 - Top 10 state stories