East Biloxi residents wait for improved roads

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - By Jeff Lawson – bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The people who live in East Biloxi, especially those who are still living near Point Cadet, are tired of waiting on road repairs. They say little has been done since Katrina. Now, it appears they will have to wait quite a while longer.

One look at the road down there and it is pretty obvious, there is a lot of room for improvement. The good news on this project is that FEMA is paying for it. The bad news is that means FEMA is coordinating the work. Experience has taught everyone on the Mississippi Gulf Coast that government red tape can be a major obstacle to getting anything done.

The problem with the roads has to do with the PVC pipe.

"We ran into a disruption about seven or eight months ago," Biloxi City Administrator David Staehling said.

What happened was although much of the pipe underground was damaged or destroyed and needed to be replaced, that was not the case with a lot of the PVC pipe. That meant in the middle of the design phase, they had to stop. All the new PVC pipe laid down already had to be taken out, and that meant more delays, and additional work that had to be done.

"We had to hire a contractor, go in and clean the pipes, video them and make a determination as to what should and should not be repaired and replaced and then go back. And we would have to amend the design phase to work around that," Staehling said.

Ward one Councilman George Lawrence has represented much of East Biloxi for a long time. He told WLOX News that his constituents seem to think it's the city delaying the work, when actually it's FEMA.

Lawrence said he understands the people's frustration, after all he lives down there too.

"When are you all going to start doing something? And that is the biggest thing I hear from the people in my ward and the local people," Lawrence said. "When will you actually start repairing the streets and the water and sewer in our area?"

Work is supposed to start soon on the actual repairs, but Lawrence thinks it will be a while before it's all done. Lawrence suspects that even if the work starts by the first of the year, it could take years before it is all done.

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