GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The $17 million project to rebuild Gulfport's Small Craft Harbor is underway. Monday afternoon, South Mississippians came out to witness the first pile being driven into the Mississippi Sound. It was a sound many South Mississippians have been waiting to hear for nearly four years.
"This is going to be the largest municipal pier on the Gulf of Mexico when it's complete," said Roger Caplinger with Innovative Builders.
Caplinger said it will take 1800 concrete pilings to rebuild the harbor. The 40 acre site will feature 319 boat slips. It's a massive project that builders hope to complete in just 410 days.
"This is a big project," said Caplinger. "This is definitely a big project. But if you build a thousand foot pier, you build a ten thousand foot pier."
Ward two Councilwoman Libby Milner-Roland says after months of planning, compromise and criticism, she's sure that the new harbor will be bigger, better and stronger.
"It's going to be so beautiful down here and the boat owners are going to be so happy with it," said Roland.
Residents and visitors can expect a boardwalk, a new Ship Island terminal with a lighthouse, a re-vamped Jones Park and a new home for the city's harbor master.
"It will be a massive project, very strong and well worth the wait," said Gulfport Mayor Brent Warr.
Mayor Warr said it took hundreds of people to move the project forward, including Broaddus & Associates, the firm managing the project, Guild Hardy Architects and Brown & Mitchell.
Now that work is set to begin, he's confident South Mississippians will be pleased with the end result.
"The Mississippi Gulf Coast deserves this," said Mayor Warr.