PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - Work is underway to expand Pascagoula's sand beach. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is overseeing the project. Crews plan to dredge and move sand to build a layer of beach to protect the seawall and homes in the area. City leaders toured the new project Monday morning.
Pascagoula Mayor Robbie Maxwell said Hurricane Katrina's storm surge eroded parts of Pascagoula's beachfront and washed away homes.
"There were just a hand full of houses that survived that storm," Mayor Maxwell said.
City Councilman Frank Corder said because of the damage and devastation city, state and federal officials began exploring ways to prevent a repeat.
"After a bunch of studies, and a bunch of looks by the Corps and different agencies, it was noticed that the homes behind the current sand beach fared better than the ones that did not have a sand beach," Corder said.
With that key information, the U.S Army Corps of Engineers recently began working to extend the city's beach. Loads of sand will be added along the Mississippi Sound from the west to the eastside. Sand will also go from the seawall out about 150 feet into the water.
"We are pumping in the sand from a dredge station about five miles up the river, and we are pumping the sand from the bottom of the navigational channel to this site," Project Manager Dean Trawick said.
The $12.4 million federal restoration project it will act as a buffer zone against future storms.
"This roadway is one of the evacuation routes from the city," Trawick said. "It's for hurricane storm damage protection for the residents in the local area, and maintain the integrity of the seawall and the infrastructure."
City leaders believe enlarging the beach will also benefit beachgoers because they will have more sand and space for relaxation and recreational fun.
This is one of 15 Mississippi Coastal Improvement projects the Corps is overseeing. City officials said they also plan to add more lighting and a promenade at the beachfront.