GAUTIER, MS (WLOX) - Construction workers are very busy these days at the Interstate 10 rest stops in Jackson County. New decorative benches were being installed Thursday, and other major improvements are in the works.
Dean Moody is the resident engineer with the Mississippi Department of Transportation. He says this is no small project.
"We're replacing the lighting, we're replacing some of the sidewalks to make them more ADA compatible," Moody said. "We're doing some landscaping and installing a new sprinkler system, and we're also replacing the old sewage system."
Replacing that sewage system means building a new lift station that will tie in with the Gautier treatment plant. It will be a huge environmental improvement over the old system.
Inside, the restrooms have been redone in a colorful motif. As with any project, job superintendent Casey Cooper said Mother Nature always plays a role.
"We had a little trouble erosionwise during the earlier, rainy season," Cooper said. "But, of course, we've had plenty of dry season here lately."
That means the project is right on schedule to be finished in April 2011. The hope is that the modern facilities will leave visitors with a good impression of Mississippi.
"I think it would be more appealing for somebody to stop here," Moody said. "It is one of the first impressions that you have in the state when you drive into a rest area or welcome center, and we are definitely concerned with the opinion of the motoring public."
This is not the first time these rest areas have been closed. Following Hurricane Katrina, they were closed for several weeks to repair storm damage. And the interiors of the rest stops were completely refurbished in 2007. That closing lasted several months.
The price tag for this project is just over $1 million.