Blowing sand blamed for damaging beach pavement

By Trang Pham-Bui - bio | email

PASS CHRISTIAN, MS (WLOX) - The walk along the newly-built concrete pavement is nice and smooth.  Then all of a sudden, you run into a big bump.

"We do have some issues, specifically the island portion of that pavement, especially in Pass Christian right now," said MDOT Engineer Kelly Castleberry.

The state Transportation Department built the pedestrian pathway along the beach last year.  It was part of the Highway 90 reconstruction project.  Now, seven sections, between the Pass Christian Harbor and the Long Beach line, have cracked and buckled.  Castleberry points to the searing sun and blowing sand as the culprits.

"Of course, we had some strong winds this year for about seven weeks and the sand blew in," said Castleberry. "Unfortunately at that time, the temperature was cooler than it is now and the sand got in those contraction joints."

Castleberry said the expansion joints allow the concrete to expand and contract, depending on the weather.  But lately, too much sand got lodged in those joints.

"As the temperature increases like it is now, that concrete's got to have a way to expand.  And the only way to expand right now is to buckle," he said.

MDOT has hired a contractor to replace the damaged concrete.

"We're going to come in with some more expansion material, make a little bit larger expansion joint, and repour those sections," said Castleberry.  "It does cost money.  It's going to cost a few thousand dollars to do this."

"It is a matter of safety," he added. "Of course people are using it as a sidewalk, and they're encouraged to do so.  And we want to make it level and smooth and make it safe for people to traverse along the coast.

Castleberry said don't be more surprised if more crumpled pavement pops up this summer.

"As the temperature stays hot like this, especially as we approach the 100 degree century mark, we may see others that will appear," he said.

The contractor will start the repairs in about two weeks. The work should only take a couple of days.

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