LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) - Downtown Long Beach is quickly becoming a construction and detour zone. It's about to get even worse, but that's a good thing.
Long awaited water and sewer repairs south of the railroad tracks are the kind of post-Katrina projects the city welcomes.
Long Beach leaders gathered to break ground Thursday afternoon on the next phase of the sewer and water work.
"Another step. We keep saying it, but it is. We had to take baby steps, now we're taking a little bit large steps," said Mayor Billy Skellie.
Those steps of rebuilding and recovery are evident in the heart of downtown Long Beach. Major infrastructure work is already well underway on Jeff Davis Avenue. Next comes Phase IV in a water and sewer project that totals well over $18,000,000.
"Another portion of recovery. We'll move into water and sewer in the area here that will afford redevelopment a better opportunity," said Mayor Skellie.
A bit of inconvenience will precede that opportunity; road closings and detours around the work sites. Water and sewer work is the backbone of development, but it isn't glamorous.
"I've never seen a glamorous slab. But you have to have the foundation to build the rest of it. And that's where we are right now," said Mayor Skellie.
Phase IV of the water and sewer work will cover an area from Girard Avenue to the Gulf Coast campus of USM.
"This is Katrina infrastructure repairs. We'll be doing water and sewer replacement. We'll be doing some drainage repairs. And there's an asphalt overlay that will be done on all the roads," said project engineer David Ball.
Like the ongoing work on Jeff Davis, the Phase IV water and sewer repairs will help create a Long Beach that's nicer looking for its residents and visitors and more inviting for potential developers and investors.
"Another segment of recovery and trying to be what we might be for development. And trying to put our best foot forward and being prepared for it to come here," says the mayor.
The next phase of sewer and water work will be finished in about a year.
The mayor says this latest phase of water and sewer repair work represents about 18 months of negotiation and engineering work to reach the point of starting construction.