Harrison County

Biloxi gets $5.9 million for a new beachside boardwalk, wave-shaped drainage outfalls

The mayor hinted Tuesday that something big was coming, and on Friday the governor announced Biloxi will get $5.9 million for improvements on the beach in East Biloxi and on the Back Bay.

It’s actually two grants for the city through the the federal Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act — or GOMESA. The program shares funds from oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico with local governments for public improvements.

This work follows the project Gov. Phil Bryant launched in Nov. 2018 to build wave-shaped drains and improve the appearance of the beaches in Harrison County. The waves also are being funded by GOMESA money.

Two already are complete in this same area as part of this new project, between Oak Street and the Biloxi Small Craft Harbor, and another is under construction just east of Interstate 110 in Biloxi.

The new grants are:

$3 million for a 1 mile-long, 10-foot wide boardwalk from Oak to Main streets. Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich designed a way to keep more of the sand on the beach instead of blowing onto U.S. 90. His design, a 36-inch knee wall, will be built atop the boardwalk and his suggestion to use heavier sand also will be paid for with the grant. A future project will be the expansion of the Kuhn Street Boat Launch and parking bays.

The grant also will pay for a 10-foot wide boardwalk west of I-110, between Bayview Avenue and the shoreline. The boardwalk is designed to provide new recreation in that area of the city, west of Forrest Avenue. The city said a joint living shoreline project with Mississippi State University and an ecotourism development involving Keegan’s Bayou could come in the future.

Gilich said the city has worked with Bryant and Joe Spraggins of the Department of Marine Resources to create waterfront experiences for residents and visitors.

“Gov. Bryant started the process with his first two wave-designed upgrades and reduction of outfalls along that breachfront,” Gilich said. “The boardwalk will provide more accessibility for pedestrians, joggers and cyclists, while the knee wall and heavier sand will help address the continuing problem of blowing sands on Highway 90.”

Biloxi also has applied for money to improve the Point Cadet Marina in East Biloxi. It was one of the projects recommended by the Gulf Coast Restoration Fund committee for funding with the millions of dollars the state has received for the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf.

The marina redevelopment is an $18 million project, with $9 million requested from the Gulf Coast Restoration Fund. The state Legislature will decide whether Biloxi will receive the grant.

Mary Perez is the business and casino reporter for the Sun Herald and also writes about Biloxi, jobs and the new restaurants and development coming to the Coast. She is a fourth-generation journalist.