Bay St. Louis seawall work to start soon

By Danielle Thomas – bio | email

BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - After nearly eight months of delays, plans are now moving forward to build a new seawall in Bay St. Louis. After the United States Army Corps of Engineers awarded the bid in January, a contractor who was not selected for the project filed a protest setting off a long legal battle. The Corps said this week the Government Accountability Office ruled in its favor.

There was a time visitors in Bay St. Louis enjoyed shops and restaurants on both sides of the street on Beach Blvd. When Hurricane Katrina blew in, the buildings on the south side crumbled away as did the seawall. That left the rest of the downtown area more exposed to storms.

"It will be nice to have that extra area there as a barrier between the water and the street," said business owner Cindy Fisher.

The Corps of Engineers said the $17 million seawall is on its way and will be far superior to its predecessor.

"The original seawall was destroyed by Katrina. So we'll go back and rebuild a more modern seawall across there," said Pat Robbins, Corps Public Affairs Officer. "The road has been redone so it will be a whole different world down there. I believe we're putting a little small beach out in front of it to help protect the seawall as well. "

Robbins said, "It's been redesigned based on occurrences that happened during Katrina. Obviously we're using more modern things than were done years and years ago. "

From construction work to marsh restoration, the federal government has many projects underway aimed at making our area more storm resistant. Corps officials said  the Mississippi Coastal Improvement Program is about listening to the voice of the people.

"When we were tasked by Congress to do this project, we were going to do it with the public and the community's input," said Robbins. "This wasn't the Corps coming in and saying this is the only answer. You can't totally protect against Mother Nature because Mother Nature is going to do what she wants to do. You do what you can without destroying the aesthetics and way of life of a community."

The Army Corps of Engineers said the contract was award to a company based in Florence, Mississippi. The seawall will be made of about 6,500 feet of concrete.

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