Harrison County

Courthouse Road construction hit a dip. Make that 18 dips, Gulfport’s engineer says.

Business owners on Courthouse Road are more than ready to see construction barrels and cones disappear after almost two years’ work.

The city hired Jay Bearden Construction Inc. as part of a contract to widen Courthouse Road to four lanes, add sidewalks and decorative lighting, and upgrade drainage. The project was supposed to be completed in September. Then it was Thanksgiving.

Now, the project has hit the proverbial dip in the road. Literally.

“I think everything looks good,” said Kris Riemann, the city’s director of engineering. “We just don’t have a smooth road. It’s hard to justify paying $6 million for a road when you’ve got 18 dips in it.”

Riemann said he counted the dips along the one-mile stretch of four-lane Courthouse between Pass Road and U.S. 90. The city wants the problem fixed, but Paul Tully, a Bearden representative, told the Sun Herald the dips were caused by a design issue, not the contractor.

“We’re very concerned about the bumps,” Tully said, “but Jay Bearden Construction is not at fault for the bumps.”

Riemann believes the road needs another inch of asphalt overlay, but so far, he said, Bearden has not agreed to that solution. If and when an agreement might be reached is unclear.

Business owners are ready to get back to business. The road is currently open to two-lane traffic in both directions. They wish it would stay that way but also want the road done right.

“It has definitely affected our growth,” said Ferrell Alman, owner of S.F. Alman Ltd. clothing store off Courthouse. “We have not been able to grow in the past two years.”

He added: “It’s been very frustrating. But it’s going to be nice when they’re through.”

Michael Hage, owner of All Signs Inc. on Courthouse, said biweekly construction updates with business owners have helped. The business owners requested the meetings, attended by representatives from the city, Bearden and the Pickering Firm Inc, construction inspectors on the project.

Hage said the business owners complained about the road’s condition once the asphalt went down.

“It’s been unbelievable,” said Hage, who estimates his business was down 15% to 20% during construction. “We kind of prepared for a year and now we’re coming up on two years. It’s been very difficult, to say the least.”