MDOT crews working overtime to clean up sandy mess

By Trang Pham-Bui - bio | email

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - State transportation crews are racking up a lot of overtime these days.

"Fourteen days straight, Saturdays and Sundays, and long hours into the night as well," said MDOT Engineer Kelly Castleberry.

They've been trying to scoop up the piles of sand that continues to collect along Highway 90, even covering some of the turning lanes.

"If sand gets too deep, it could create a hazard for drivers, especially if it becomes soft or loose," Castleberry explained. "It could bog the tire down and make it slip, or it's hard, it could create a bump."

"Sometimes it can be an unsafe situation, and it stacks up in the medians and it looks like crap," said Bobby Weaver, the Harrison County Sand Beach Director.

Weaver says he's heard the complaints from drivers. He says his crews are doing the best they can to prevent the sand from blowing away, but Mother Nature keeps stirring up trouble.

"These ungodly winds we've been getting, it's extremely unusual," said Weaver. "You talk to a lot of people, they can't recall a time that we've had this much wind during this period."

Weaver points to projects that are underway to help catch the sand, like the boardwalk and dune vegetation.

"We've had a few new plantings, and we've got in the process of doing design work on planting dunes 26 miles along the shoreline," said Weaver.

And you can see new fencing up at certain sections like Hewes Avenue, Cowan Road, and 20th Avenue.

On Monday, the Harrison County Board of Supervisors agreed to pay overtime hours for the Sand Beach Authority. The move means some Sand Beach employees will be working an extra two-days a week in May, to finish installing the fencing that was destroyed by hurricanes Katrina and Gustav.

"These winds have been troubling and frustrating and whatever adjectives we can give it," said Weaver. "And we're going to make our best out of it and try to get things back in order as quickly as we can."

Weaver said at the end of the month, the county will evaluate the fencing project to determine whether to extend the overtime work schedule for Sand Beach employees so they can finish the job.

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