BAY ST LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - A long awaited, multi-million dollar shoreline protection project in downtown Bay St. Louis is finally underway. It's a new, giant seawall designed to protect Beach Boulevard and nearby homes and businesses from future storms. The seawall will span 1.7 miles from the Bay Bridge to Washington Street.
"In the northern part of the project, where we're standing right now, it will probably be six to eight feet in elevation. But down in the downtown area, where it's going to be the most significant as far as protection is concerned, it's going to reach heights of 24 feet," Bay St. Louis Mayor Les Fillingame said.
The seawall will step down allowing visitors to access the beach from almost anywhere along the structure.
"So it's going to make, basically, a stairway to the beach all along the face of Bay St. Louis. And it's going to put a significant new face on Bay St. Louis."
Sheet pilings will be driven into the ground, then back filled with dirt, creating safe, buildable property in the commercial area of the beach front.
"This is a paramount project as we rebuild Bay St. Louis," the mayor said.
Fillingame said the seven businesses that existed on the water side of the beach road before Katrina will have the opportunity to return once the project is finished.
"Bringing that entire landscape up to the roadway is going to make rebuilding possible where it possibly could not have been. Of course it's a tremendous benefit to the upland property owners, especially on the beach side. And we anticipate several of them starting construction as soon as this project is finished."
The project should be complete in about 18 months. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is funding and overseeing the $16.6 million project.