Harrison County

Is there finally a solution to Courthouse Road construction drama? It’s complicated.

Jay Bearden Construction Co. is suing the city for final payment on the $6 million contract to expand and upgrade Courthouse Road, but the Gulfport City Council and administration say they are determined to see the job done right.

The council voted 4-0 Thursday in a specially called meeting to direct that Bearden repair 18 dips in the asphalt, then overlay the road with another inch of asphalt.

They city has added about $240,000 to the contract price to cover the work, with the Mississippi Department of Transportation agreeing to pick up most of the tab. The city’s cost will be around $40,000, said Kris Riemann, Gulfport’s director of engineering.

“We just want the job finished,” Riemann said. “On a $6 million job, you don’t want 18 patches when you’re riding down Courthouse Road.” He said the patches also would not hold up as long as the road will if the problems are corrected the way the city is directing.

The city suspended work on the project April 5, after the dips became apparent. The council’s action Thursday lifts that suspension.

In addition to the city, Bearden is suing project engineer Neel-Schaffer and project manager The Pickering Firm, claiming that project conditions and plans were to blame for delays and issues with the work.

The city has withheld from Bearden roughly $160,000 in damages for what it considers project delays and another $200,000 for paving, Riemann said.

With the council’s action, the city hopes Bearden will finish the work.

The stretch of Courthouse Road between the beach highway and Pass Road, is a heavily traveled commercial area and is also adjacent to Gulfport High School.

The road has been repaved for the first time in 20 years. Also, decorative street lights, raised medians, landscaping, brick pavers and a path for bicyclist and pedestrians were added.

Riemann said the project was designed to bring a little “downtown flair,” to Courthouse Road.

The city has updated merchants every two weeks during the project, which was originally supposed to be completed in September.

“The city has no culpability in this whatsoever,” Chief Administrative Officer John Kelly said before Thursday meeting. “We want the road fixed.”