Biloxi piers will be repaired this summer

By Brad Kessie - bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Biloxi has received a $280,000 bid to rebuild the Coliseum Pier.  If it's approved by the city council on Tuesday, one of the city's waterfront attractions will get a post Katrina facelift.  Biloxi leaders say the Coliseum Pier restoration work will begin the next phase of the city's $30 million reinvestment on the waterfront.

Splintered pieces of wood across from the Coliseum have become a popular nesting area.

"Right now, it's good for seagulls and pelicans," said city spokesman Vincent Creel.  "But we want to make it more to where the public will have access to the waterfront."

The last time people walked on the Coliseum pier was the last time Elmarie Marias visited Biloxi.

"I've been here four years ago and it was still up, before the hurricane.  So we used to walk every night down to it," she remembered.  "Now, it's gone.  That's probably why I took the photo."

The South African snapped a picture of the hurricane battered pier, so she could show people back home what post Katrina Biloxi looks like.

"It does make me sad sometimes, because it's been there before.  Now, we're back.  Now everything is gone," said Marias.

That image of destruction on the water is an eyesore that Biloxi administrators can no longer tolerate.

"Our piers were destroyed," said Creel.  "You look around in some communities, and they've been able to build back piers.  I don't know if they had to start from scratch the way we've had to."

Despite pleas to build a concrete pier, FEMA is requiring Biloxi to use the same wooden materials to recreate the waterfront walkway.  Coliseum Pier construction should begin in a couple of weeks.  By the end of the summer, the lighthouse pier replacement project should begin as well.

"We know the importance of providing waterfront access to our residents, visitors and boat owners," said David Staehling, the city's Director of Administration. "We've had engineering firms working with FEMA and MEMA and other state and federal agencies for months now, and we're ready to see the projects get under construction."

FEMA is reimbursing Biloxi to repair a total of four city piers.  The Coliseum Pier and the Lighthouse Pier could reopen within 270 days.

"What you see out there right now, we're going to turn that into a pier people can walk on," Creel said.

People -- not birds.

The city also working on plans to redo its fishing bridges.  In fact, work on the fishing bridge next to the Palace Casino could begin at the end of the year.

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